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Israeli Supreme court refuses to move hunger-striking Balboul brothers to hospital

Aug. 9, 2016 3:17 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 9, 2016 5:15 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Israeli Supreme Court on Tuesday turned down an appeal by the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs to move hunger-striking prisoners Muhammad and Mahmoud al-Balboul to a hospital outside of prison after their health deteriorated last week, according to the committee.

The committee said that the Israeli Supreme Court refused the appeal on the basis that accepting it would be an “intervention” in the Israeli Prison Service’s (IPS) jurisdiction.

The Balboul brothers have been on hunger strike since the beginning of July, protesting their administrative detentions -- Israel’s controversial policy of detaining primarily Palestinians without charge or trial -- which were confirmed by an Israeli military court on Sunday

The brothers have been detained in Israel’s Ofer military prison, and were reported by the committee to be held in very bad conditions, with IPS authorities “practicing multiple violations against them to force them to stop their hunger strikes.”

The court rejected an appeal on Sunday by the committee’s lawyers to reduce the brothers’ administrative detention sentences, as no charges have been brought against them.

Muhammad, a dentist, was sentenced to six months of administrative detention, while Mahmoud, a Master’s student at al-Quds University, was sentenced to five months.

Mahmoud Balboul has been on hunger-strike since July 5, and Muhammad since July 7.

Mahmoud Balboul has been suffering from severe pains in his chest and has had difficulty breathing, the committee said Sunday, adding that “from time to time, he falls to the ground with signs of fatigue, and has lost a noticeable portion of his weight.”

A lawyer told Ma’an at the time that Muhammad Balboul, who has also been being treated in Ramla prison hospital, told him that IPS doctors were not providing his brother Mahmoud with proper medical care, and that prison authorities assaulted Mahmoud in the hospital before transferring him back to Ofer prison.

Muhammad Balboul added that he has been suffering from constant dizziness, muscle stiffness, exhaustion, and insomnia, while Mahmoud suffered from issues in his pelvic bones, acidity caused by chronic vomiting, and has not able to speak as well.

Muhammad and Mahmoud al-Balboul were detained on June 9 from Bethlehem, just two months after their 14-year-old sister, Nuran, was detained after attempting to cross Israel’s 300 Checkpoint between northern Bethlehem and Jerusalem for allegedly possessing a knife, an accusation that locals denied.

Nuran was released from prison on July 12 after spending three months in prison.

The three are children of Ahmad al-Balboul, a prominent leader in Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades who was shot dead along with three other Palestinians by undercover Israeli forces in March 2008.

The two brothers have joined several other Palestinian prisoners currently on hunger strike in an attempt to hold Israel accountable for its arbitrary arrest and detention of Palestinians.

According to Palestinians, Israel routinely uses its policy of administrative detention -- internment without charge or trial based on undisclosed evidence -- to detain family members of Palestinian political leaders, in an extension of several policies that rights groups have deemed “collective punishment” aimed at disrupting family life for Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

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