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PFLP secretary-general placed in solitary confinement after announcing hunger strike

July 31, 2016 7:55 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 1, 2016 10:26 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) said in a statement on Sunday that the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) has placed imprisoned PFLP Secretary-General Ahmad Saadat in solitary confinement.

The PFLP, Palestine's most popular left-wing political faction, said that the Israeli decision came after Saadat started a hunger strike in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner and PFLP member Bilal Kayid, who entered his 47th day without food on Sunday.

“This practice by the Israel Prison Service won’t stop the battle for freedom, but rather bring about more escalation in Israeli prisons,” the PFLP said in its statement.

The statement added that Israel would have to “bear the consequences” of the decision to place Saadat in isolation, and would be held accountable for anything that could happen to Kayid, whose health has sharply deteriorated in recent days, as he has lost over 30 kilograms of weight, lost nearly 90 percent of his ability to speak, and has become hard of hearing.

The PFLP added that international prisoners’ rights groups were “complicit with the (Israeli) occupation” as long as they remained silent towards the violations of prisoners’ rights by the IPS.

The statement slammed the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for their lack of intervention to help Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody, highlighting that the ICRC has recently reduced family visits to prisoners from twice a month to once a month.

Saadat started his open hunger strike on Friday in support of Bilal Kayid, according to PFLP official Alaa al-Kaabi, however a statement released by the PFLP in English said his hunger strike began on Sunday.

The statement said that “From the leaders of the Front to the youngest imprisoned children,” prisoners would continue to demand the release of Kayid from administrative detention -- Israel’s policy of internment without charges or trial.

Israeli authorities sentenced Kayid to six months in administrative detention on the day he was due to be released after serving a 14-year sentence in Israeli custody. After declaring his own hunger strike, hundreds of others have launched temporary strikes in solidarity with Kayid, while dozens have began open hunger strikes.

In response, IPS authorities have cracked down on hunger-striking prisoners in attempt to disrupts their protest by assaulting them and raiding their cells, confiscating electronic equipment, placing many in solitary confinement, routinely transferring them between prisons, imposing fines, and preventing prisoners from receiving visits.

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