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Imprisoned Palestinian brothers launch hunger strike to protest detention

July 5, 2016 4:34 P.M. (Updated: July 6, 2016 7:07 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Two Palestinian brothers declared a hunger strike on Monday to protest being transferred to administrative detention, an Israeli policy of internment without charge or trial based on undisclosed evidence, according to locals.

Muhammad and Mahmoud al-Balboul were detained on June 9 from Bethlehem, just two months after their 14-year-old sister, Nuran, was detained after attempting to cross Israel’s 300 checkpoint between northern Bethlehem and Jerusalem for allegedly possessing a knife, an accusation that locals denied.

Muhammad, a dentist, was sentenced to six months of administrative detention, while Mahmoud, a Master’s student at al-Quds University, was sentenced to five months.

The three are children of Ahmad al-Balboul, a prominent leader in Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, who was shot dead along with three other Palestinians by undercover Israeli forces in March 2008.

The two brothers have joined several other Palestinian prisoners currently on hunger strike in an attempt to hold Israel accountable for its arbitrary arrest and detention of Palestinians.

Although Israeli authorities claim the withholding of evidence during administrative detention is essential for state security concerns, rights groups have claimed that 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 Palestinians, Israel also uses the policy to detain family members of Palestinian political leaders, in an extension of several policies that rights groups have deemed “collective punishment” aimed at disrupting family life for Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, there 7,000 Palestinians were being held by Israel as of May, 715 of which were held in administrative detention.

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