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Prominent imprisoned Palestinian journalist to start hunger strike

Aug. 3, 2016 9:37 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 4, 2016 1:20 P.M.)
(File)

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Prominent imprisoned Palestinian journalist Omar Nazzal announced that he would begin a hunger strike on Thursday, joining scores of other prisoners currently refusing food to denounce Israel’s policy of administrative detention.

Nazzal, a member of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, was detained by Israeli forces in April and put in administrative detention -- internment without trial or charges.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate called upon all international institutions to pressure the Israeli government to release Nazzal.

The Israel Prisons Service (IPS) at the Ofer prison, where Nazzal is being detained, has threatened to send Nazzal into solitary confinement if he started a hunger strike.

Nazzal said his decision to begin a hunger strike was to protest his own administrative detention, as well as that of fellow prisoner Bilal Kayid, who entered the 50th day of his hunger strike on Wednesday and has reportedly been near death.

Brothers Muhammad and Mahmoud Balboul have also been on hunger strike for some 30 days to denounce their own administrative detention.

Since Kayid launched his strike, prisoners have launched solidarity strikes on a rolling basis to support Kayid and demand an end to Israel’s use of administrative detention. The hunger strikes quickly spread across Israeli prisons, with more than a hundred Palestinian prisoners joining from various political parties.

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.

Israel has stepped up a crackdown on Palestinian journalists and media organizations since a wave of unrest increased in October. While the Israeli authorities have said those targeted were responsible for incitement against Israel, rights groups argue the crackdown is a blatant violation of media freedoms.

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.

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