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Imprisoned Palestinian brothers continue hunger strike into 3rd week

July 19, 2016 7:22 P.M. (Updated: July 20, 2016 1:00 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian brothers Muhammad and Mahmoud al-Balboul entered the third week of their hunger strike to protest their detention in Israeli prison without charge or trial, according to a statement released by a lawyer from the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS).

The lawyer reported that the brothers, held in Israel’s Ofer prison, have experienced health issues as a result of their strikes. Muhammad, 26, has suffered from muscular spasms and his brother Mahmoud, 22, has lost 12 kilograms and has also suffered from spasms. Both have been on hunger strike for 16 days.

The Israeli Prison Services (IPS) reportedly separated the brothers in two different cells without sunlight or fresh air. The cells have also been searched by IPS officials on a daily basis, according to the lawyer, while the brothers have been banned from going on breaks with the other prisoners.

The al-Balboul brothers told PPS that they would continue their strike until they were released or Israel set an exact date for their release.

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.

Nuran was released from prison last week after serving three months in prison.

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.

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 uses the policy of administrative detention -- internment without charge or trial based on undisclosed evidence -- 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, 7,000 Palestinians were being held by Israel as of May, 715 of which were held in administrative detention.
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