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Palestinian Ministry of Health warns of hunger striker Bilal Kayid's 'sudden death'

Aug. 2, 2016 9:50 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 3, 2016 3:59 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Ministry of Health said in a statement on Tuesday that hunger striker Bilal Kayid’s health has continued to worsen, as doctors reportedly warned of “sudden death.”

Ministry official Kamal al-Shakhra, alongside a medical delegation, visited Kayid, now entering the 50th day of his hunger strike, in Israel’s Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon, as Kayid was reported as suffering from severe weakness, vision problems, a lung infection, heart complications, and rapid weight loss.

He added that Kayid, who remained handcuffed to a bed in the hospital, has reportedly begun taking water, salt, and vitamins, as doctors warned of the possibility of “sudden death.”

The Ministry of Health called upon international health organizations to immediately intervene and pressure the Israeli government to fulfill Kayid’s demands and release him from administrative detention.

On Saturday, it was reported that Kayid’s health had significantly deteriorated as a result of his strike, losing nearly 90 percent of his ability to speak and suffering from hearing damage.

Kayid, a member of the left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was sentenced to six months of administrative decision on the day he was expected to be released from a 14-year prison sentence, prompting Kayid to declare an open hunger strike.

He is one of the most high-profile hunger strikers since Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq came near death during a 94-day hunger strike before he was finally released in May.

Kayid's hunger strike has resulted in a mass solidarity movement of PFLP-affiliated prisoners protesting through temporary and open-ended hunger strikes, resulting in an equally massive crackdown on mostly PFLP prisoners by the IPS, which has conducted multiple raids, cell block closures, and confiscations of personal property in attempts to quell the strikes.

On July 5, Muhammad and Mahmoud Balboul joined Kayid in an open hunger strike in protest of being sentenced to six months of administrative detention. The brothers have entered the 30th day of their strikes and have both been transferred to Israel’s Ramla Hospital.

Israel’s policy of administrative detention, almost exclusively used against Palestinians, has been widely criticized by rights group that have accused Israel of using the policy to erode Palestinian political and social life by detaining scores of Palestinians without proof of wrongdoing.

Israeli authorities dramatically increased their use of administrative detention during the Second Palestinian Intifada in the early 2000s. Since then, the ending of administrative detention has become a central demand among Palestinians undertaking hunger strikes in Israeli prisons.

According to 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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