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Two hunger strikers moved to hospital as health deteriorates

Aug. 19, 2016 5:06 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 21, 2016 6:44 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Israeli Prison Service (IPS) moved hunger-striking prisoners Muhammad al-Balboul and Malik al-Qadi on Friday from Israel’s Ofer prison to the al-Ramla Hospital after their healths deteriorated Thursday.

The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs released a statement Friday saying that the health of the two prisoners were severely deteriorating, as Balboul entered his 43rd day of hunger strike on Thursday, and al-Qadi entered his 34th day of hunger strike.

The committee reported in a statement on Thursday that IPS had also moved Palestinian prisoner Ayyad al-Hremi from Ofer prison to Ramla hospital after his health deteriorated.

Al-Hremi, a Bethlehem resident, has been on hunger strike for 35 days, along with the Balboul brothers and Bilal Kayid, all in protest of being held in administrative detention -- an Israeli policy of internment without charge or trial.

The committee added that the health of the Balboul brothers, Muhammad and Mahmoud, had worsened each day, saying that Muhammad had been suffering from allergies, shortage of essential vitamins, weight loss, and extreme exhaustion, while Mahmoud had suffered from similar symptoms.

Muhammad and Mahmoud have been on hunger strike for 46 and 49 days respectively in protest of their administrative detention orders, which were issued shortly after they were detained on June 9, just two months after Israeli forces detained their 14-year-old sister Nuran at the 300 Checkpoint in Bethlehem after accusing her of possessing a knife.

An Israeli military court decided last week to confirm the administrative detention sentences of the brothers, after rejecting an appeal by the committee’s lawyers to reduce the sentence.

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.

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

More than 80 Palestinian prisoners continued their open hunger strikes in solidarity with the Balbouls and Kayid, the highest profile hunger striker since Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq came near death during a 94-day hunger strike before he was finally released in May.

The recent large-scale solidarity movement among 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'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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