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Palestinian prisoner held by Israel without charge enters 25th day of hunger strike

July 9, 2016 7:32 P.M. (Updated: July 10, 2016 2:03 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The health of Palestinian prisoner Bilal Kayid continued to deteriorate on Saturday, as he entered the 25th day of a hunger strike he began in protest of being placed in administrative detention by Israel on the day he was scheduled to be released from serving more than 14 years in prison.

According to a statement published by prisoners’ rights group Addameer on Thursday, Kayid was suffering from chronic fatigue and insomnia, sleeping just an hour a day.

After refusing medical treatment, vitamins, and salt supplements, living off only water for 25 consecutive days, the 35-year-old prisoner lost 25 kilograms, according to Addameer.

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 Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

He was transferred between several prisons during his 14-and-a-half-year sentence and was frequently placed into solitary confinement, the last stretch of which left him in isolation for nearly a year at Ramon prison after Israeli authorities learned of his leadership activities among Palestinians inside Israeli prisons.

On June 13, the day of his scheduled release, Israeli authorities sentenced Kayid to six months in administrative detention -- internment without charge or trial under undisclosed evidence -- and placed him again in isolation. He started his hunger strike the next day.

Since he began his hunger strike, several PFLP-affiliated prisoners in a number of Israeli prisons have begun hunger strikes of their own in solidarity, to which Israel's prison authorities responded by raiding and assaulting prisoners, confiscating their electronic equipment, placing many in solitary confinement, and transferring several more to other prisons to disrupt their protest.

On Friday, the PFLP released a statement affirming that the hunger-striking prisoners continued to face pressure by authorities to give up their struggle, and that recent developments -- including the confirmation of Kayid’s administrative detention in a court hearing on Tuesday -- indicated that “the prison administration will expand its attacks on the prisoners’ movement.”

The PFLP declared further hunger strikes on several days throughout the month of July in their statement, including on Friday and Saturday, and called on supporters to expand protest campaigns across the occupied Palestinian territory.

Dozens of demonstrations demanding Kayid’s immediate release have already been held in a number of Palestinian cities as well as internationally in recent weeks.

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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