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Israel bans 15 Palestinian hunger-striking prisoners from seeing lawyers

Aug. 10, 2016 2:18 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 20, 2016 3:00 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israel Prison Service (IPS) in Israel’s Megiddo prison banned 15 hunger-striking prisoners from receiving visits from their lawyers, according to a statement released by the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) on Wednesday.

IPS claimed that the ban was imposed on the prisoners due to their health conditions, according to PPS, as they continued their solidarity hunger strike in support of Bilal Kayid, now entering his 56th day without food, and in protest of being held in administrative detention -- Israel’s policy of imprisonment without charge or trial.

IPS also reportedly banned 35 other hunger-striking prisoners from receiving lawyer visits at Israel’s Gilboa prison for the same reasons, while an order was also issued to ban lawyers from visiting hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners at Israel's Jalbou prison.

Shireen Eraqi, a lawyer from the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners' Affairs said in a statement Wednesday afternoon that all the hunger strikers in Jalbou prison were transferred to solitary confinement and all their personal belongings confiscated by IPS officials, including electronic devices and bed covers.

IPS also reportedly only served hot drinking water to the hunger strikers, banned family visitations for two months, and imposed a 600 shekel ($157) fine on the prisoners, according to Eraqi. She added that the actions taken by IPS were part of the prison authorities' attempts to pressure the hunger strikers to stop their strikes.

Five Palestinian prisoners are currently on open hunger strikes against their administrative detention: brothers Muhammad and Mahmoud Balboul, Ayyad al-Hreimi, Malik al-Qadi, and journalist Omar Nazzal, while Walid Masalmeh is on hunger strike in protest of being held in solitary confinement.

PPS confirmed that 80 prisoners, including Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Secretary-General Ahmad Saadat, have remained on hunger strike in solidarity with Kayid, who declared a hunger strike on June 14 after being transferred to administrative detention on the day he was expected to be released from a 14-and-a-half-years sentence in Israeli prison.

Meanwhile, Israel has recently prevented the families of scores of Palestinian prisoners from entering Israel to visit their incarcerated relatives, as widespread protest have also been launched over the International Committee of the Red Cross' (ICRC) recent cuts to family visitations, reducing arranged visits for male Palestinian prisoners from two days a month to just one.

Israel's policy of deporting Palestinians outside of the occupied territory into prisons inside the occupying state is illegal under international law. According to prisoners' rights group Addameer, "This systematic and illegal transfer of Palestinians from the occupied territory also carries with it a human impact -- the consequence is that Palestinian relatives of prisoners and detainees who then require a permit to enter Israel are regularly denied family visitation permits, based on 'security grounds'."

"From observations by Addameer based on accounts of family members, these permits are systematically denied for male family members aged between 16 and 35. Overall, the ongoing deportation of Palestinians detainees presents not just significant human implications, but also operates as part of a wider Israeli impunity for international crimes which threatens to erode the relevance of international law generally."
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