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Hunger-striking prisoner Bilal Kayid now refusing medical treatment

Aug. 1, 2016 10:22 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 9, 2016 1:12 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Palestinian prisoner Bilal Kayid has decided to escalate his hunger strike and refuse any medical treatments or tests until an Israeli court agreed to hear his case, prisoners rights group Addameer said on Monday.

Addameer lawyer Farah Bayadsa visited Kayid, who is currently held in the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon under maximum security, on Sunday, and reported that Kayid wanted to be transferred back to prison so he could continue his hunger strike alongside other Palestinian prisoners.

Kayid has been on hunger strike for 48 days after Israeli authorities sentenced him to six months in administrative detention -- internment without trial or charges -- on the day he was due to be released after serving a 14-year sentence in Israeli custody.

Bayadsa said Kayid had decided to escalate his strike since an Israeli court turned down the appeal against his administrative detention. Beginning in August, Kayid has announced he would refuse all medical tests or treatment until a date is set for a court hearing.

Kayid has also asked to be transferred back to prison after denouncing his harsh treatment in the hospital. While detained at the Barzilai hospital, Kayid has had his right hand and left leg cuffed to the bed at all times, with three Israeli guards and a surveillance camera always present in his room, preventing any privacy, even during visits by his lawyer, which are limited to half an hour.

Kayid also said that Knesset members belonging to the Joint List -- which represents Palestinian citizens of Israel -- were banned from visiting him. He added that he was being harassed both Israeli extremists visiting the hospital and his guards, whom he accused of taking pictures of him in his sleep and turning the air conditioner on high when he felt cold.

After more than a month and a half of hunger strike, Kayid’s health has seriously deteriorated. The 35-year-old prisoner has been suffering from severe headaches, heartburn, exhaustion, insomnia, and weight loss.

Doctors have only allowed him to drink one liter of water each day because of his condition, and Kayid has also complained of suffering physical pain due to being shackled to his bed.

After insisting, he has been allowed to walk in his room for 15 minutes each day, even though he has only been able to walk slowly because of his feelings of dizziness.

Addameer has called Kayid’s imprisonment a violation of human rights, and demanded the instant release of Kayid, as well as an end to all punitive measures against prisoners standing in solidarity with Kayid.

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).

The large-scale solidarity movement amongst prisoners has resulted in an equally massive crackdown on mostly PFLP prisoners by the IPS, which has conducted multiple raids, cell block closures, confiscations of personal property, and transfers of detainees in attempts to quell the strikes.

Issa Qaraqe, the head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, said that Israeli prison guards on Monday had raided Section 12 of the Nafha prison, assaulted prisoners and moved all of the section’s prisoners to other detention facilities.

Earlier on Monday, Israeli Prison Service (IPS) returned Palestinian prisoners affiliated with Fatah and PFLP from Israel's Ohalei Kedar prison back to Ramon prison Monday morning, according to Sawt al-Asra (Voice of Prisoners) radio, a week after moving them in an attempt to destabilize the mass open hunger-strikes which have been launched across Israeli prisons to support Kayid.

Israel's administrative detention policy is widely criticized among Palestinians, who say it has been used to detain Palestinians without justifications.

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

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