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Protesters continue to demand release of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner

July 7, 2016 7:47 P.M. (Updated: July 8, 2016 10:32 A.M.)
Protest held for Bilal Kayid in Asira al-Shamaliya in Nablus July 6, 2016 (Photo: PFLP)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Scores of Palestinians marched on Wednesday morning in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus in protest of the continuing administrative detention of hunger-striking prisoner Bilal Kayid.

According a statement released Thursday by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), with which Kayid is affiliated, PFLP members and locals marched to Kayid’s home in the village of Asira al-Shamaliya to greet his family, wearing t-shirts emblazoned with his image and carrying Palestinian flags.

The march came a day after an Israeli military court confirmed Kayid’s six-month administrative detention order in a hearing which the hunger-striking prisoner refused to attend or recognize its legitimacy, the PFLP statement said.

Tuesday, the day of the court session, a demonstration was also held in the Nablus-area village of Sebastia in support of Kayid.

Protest held for Bilal Kayid in Sebastia in Nablus on July 5, 2016. (Photo: PFLP)

According to the PFLP, since Kayid was sentenced to administrative detention on June 13 -- the day he was expected to be released from Israeli prison after serving 14-and-a-half years -- protests have been organized demanding his immediate release across the occupied Palestinian territory, as well as in Brussels, Berlin, New York, Vancouver, Toulouse, Paris, Turin, Dublin, Belfast, London, Amsterdam, and the Hague.

Several Palestinian prisoners have begun hunger strikes in solidarity with Kayid. Following the strikes, Israel's prison authorities cracked down on PFLP prisoners by raiding their prison cells, transferring several prisoners including Kayid to disrupt the protest, placing several others in solitary confinement, and confiscating electronic devices.

Rights groups have claimed that Israel's administrative detention policy -- internment without trial or charge on the basis of undisclosed evidence -- 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 administrative detention.
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