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More than 80 Palestinian prisoners participate in ongoing hunger strike

Aug. 7, 2016 8:25 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 7, 2016 11:06 P.M.)
GAZA (Ma’an) -- The health of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner Ahed Abu Ghulma has sharply deteriorated, it was revealed on Sunday, amid a mass hunger strike involving more than 80 Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli custody.

After starting his hunger strike a week ago, Ahed Abu Ghulma -- held in solitary confinement in Israel’s Ramon prison -- began suffering from headaches, exhaustion, severe joint pains, and vomiting spells, according to the Handala Center for Prisoners and Former Prisoners.

The Israel Prison Service (IPS) refused to transfer him to a hospital or provide him with medical care, in an attempt to pressure him to end his hunger strike, according to the center.

IPS also attempted to pressure Ahmad Saadat, the secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), by threatening to transfer him from solitary confinement in Ramon prison to an unknown location if he did not end his hunger strike.

The statement added that IPS has escalated its punitive measures to pressure all involved prisoners to cease their hunger strikes and prevent other prisoners from joining the action.

Israeli forces have continuously raided prison sections holding Palestinians across Israeli detention centers, searching and confiscating their belongings.

However, PFLP-affiliated prisoners said they were determined to continue their hunger strike until their demands were met and the release of Palestinian hunger striker and PFLP member Bilal Kayid was secured.

The ongoing mass hunger strike was initially launched in solidarity with Kayid, who has gone for more than 50 days without food in protest of being sentenced to administrative detention -- Israel’s policy of internment without charge or trial -- the day he was set to be released after serving more than 14 years in prison.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health said on Tuesday that Kayid’s health has continued to worsen, as doctors warned of impending “sudden death.”

The Handala center also urged in their statement for Palestinian civilians and organizations to resist the Israeli occupation through popular support for Palestinian prisoners, and urged participation in a PFLP-organized human chain in the Gaza Strip set to take place near Gaza City’s Unknown Soldier's on Sunday evening.

Another event was scheduled to be held on Monday morning in front of the office for the Palestinian Red Crescent in Gaza City in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners.

The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement Sunday that more than 80 Palestinian prisoners were on hunger strike in Israeli jails protesting administrative detention and solitary confinement in solidarity with Kayid.

Among the 80 hunger strikers were Mahmoud Balboul who has been on hunger-strike since the July 5, his brother Muhammad Balboul, who has been on hunger-strike since July 7, as well as Malik al-Qadi and Ayyad Hreimi who both began their strikes on July 15.

Incarcerated Palestinian journalist Omar Nazzal also joined the hunger-strike on Aug 1, while prisoner Walid Malluh Masalmeh has been on a hunger strike since July 18 to protest being held in solitary confinement for more than ten months.

According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, Israel was detaining some 7,000 Palestinian prisoners as of May, including 715 in administrative detention.

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