RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Palestinian prisoner Bilal Kayid declared an open hunger strike on Tuesday to protest being placed under administrative detention -- internment without charge or trial -- for six months following the completion of his 14-year sentence in Israeli custody, according to the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs.
The committee condemned Israel’s policy of administrative detention against Palestinian prisoners, which allows for Israeli authorities to sentence Palestinians in three- to six-month long renewable intervals based on undisclosed evidence, calling the actions of Israeli authorities “dangerous and critical,” while demanding action on Kayid’s case.
The committee referred to Israel’s use of administrative detention as a “joke,” and urged the international community to uphold its responsibilities and intervene to secure the release of Kayid.
Kayid, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), is from the town of Asira al-Shamaliya in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus, and was originally detained in 2002 for alleged involvement in the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades -- the armed wing of the PFLP.
He was transferred between several prisons during his sentence and was frequently placed into solitary confinement, the last stretch of which left him in solitary almost a year after Israeli authorities learned of his leadership activities between Palestinians inside Israeli prisons.
The committee stated that fellow PFLP prisoners in several prisons in Israel would join Kayid in his hunger strike for two days.
In response, Israeli forces raided Israel’s Eshel prison, assaulting Palestinian prisoners who had announced their intent to join Kayid’s hunger strike, and closing their section in the prison after confiscating electrical appliances and imposing a number of punishments on the group, according to the committee.
The PFLP prisoners addressed personnel of Israel's prison service during the raid, saying that unless Kayid’s detention was overturned and his immediate release secured, they would be escalating their hunger strikes to include Palestinians in all of Israel’s prisons.
Rights groups have claimed that Israel's administrative detention policy has been used as an attempt to disrupt Palestinian political processes, notably targeting Palestinian politicians, activists, and journalists.
Although Israeli authorities claim the withholding of evidence during administrative detention is essential for state security concerns, rights groups have instead claimed the policy allows Israeli authorities to hold Palestinians for an indefinite period of time without showing any evidence that could justify their detentions.
Israel considers the majority of Palestinian political parties to be “terrorist organizations." As a result, most Palestinians who participate in the political arena in the occupied Palestinian territory risk being imprisoned by Israeli authorities.
According to the prisoner’s rights group Addameer, there are currently 7,000 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, 715 of whom are held under Israel’s policy of administrative detention.