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65 Palestinian prisoners begin hunger strike

June 20, 2016 10:16 A.M. (Updated: June 25, 2016 6:49 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) --The Palestinian Prisoner's Society (PPS) said on Monday that 65 Palestinian prisoners affiliated to the left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) have started an open hunger strike in Israel’s Megiddo prison.

According to a statement released by PPS, a lawyer who visited Israel's Megiddo and Gilboa prisons on Sunday said that 60 PFLP-affiliated prisoners started a hunger strike in Megiddo on Sunday, while five PFLP-affiliated prisoners were expected to start a hunger strike in Gilboa on Monday.

The decision to start the hunger strike, the lawyer added, was in protest against Israel's decision to send PFLP-affiliated prisoner Bilal Kayid to administrative detention without trial for six months, after he was expected to be released after completing a 14-year prison sentence.

Kayid began his own hunger strike on June 13 in protest of the decision. Following news that other prisoners were expected to join his strike, Israeli forces raided Israel’s Eshel prison, assaulting the prisoners who had announced their intent to strike.

Dozens of Palestinians near Kayid's home town in Nablus also reportedly gathered to protest his administrative detention on Tuesday.

Kayid, who hails from the village of Asira al-Shamaliya near Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank, has been in Israeli custody since 2001 for alleged involvement in the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades -- the armed wing of the PFLP.

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.

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