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Current hunger strike 'longest in Palestinian history'

June 10, 2014 10:47 A.M. (Updated: June 12, 2014 4:05 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Jailed Palestinians who have been refusing meals since April 24 are taking part in the longest collective hunger strike in Palestinian history, a prisoner rights group said Monday.

"This is the longest mass hunger strike among prisoners in Palestinian history since a 45-day strike in 1976," Addameer said in a report on its website as the current strike neared its 48th day.

"The hunger strikers remain steadfast in their demand to end the policy of administrative detention."

Some 125 prisoners in Israeli jails began a hunger strike on April 24 against Israel's policy of holding Palestinians in custody indefinitely without charge or trial.

Hundreds have joined the strike since then, and others have taken part in one-day solidarity strikes.

The report said that nearly 80 prisoners are being held in civilian hospitals in Israel.

Additionally, it quoted lawyers as saying doctors have been threatening to force-feed prisoners if they lost consciousness.

Doctors in Kaplan Hospital threatened to "introduce food to the body through the nose into the stomach without taking consent, after shackling (them)," the report said.

The alleged threats of force-feeding come as Israeli lawmakers are debating a bill that would allow the prison service to treat prisoners medically without their consent, in addition to force-feeding them.

"This is a dangerous step towards institutionalizing torture of Palestinian hunger strikers, which force-feeding is considered under international law and by the World Medical Association."

Meanwhile, the prisoners' conditions are worsening, the report said.

"The hunger striking detainees were warned of the danger to their lives, as their core muscles are now deteriorating and the body fat has disappeared from their bodies. Some of them were told by the doctors that they can suffer from a heart attack or stroke at any moment. Some are suffering from intestinal bleeding, vomiting blood and fainting in addition to significant loss of weight and decrease in heart rate and decrease in blood sugar."

Addameer called on the international community to intervene for the strikers.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has called on Israel to immediately release or charge the Palestinian administrative detainees on hunger strike.
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