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Palestinian PM office: Israel’s 'horrific treatment' of Bilal Kayid amounting to 'torture'

Aug. 23, 2016 7:28 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 24, 2016 9:47 A.M.)
Israel uses administrative detention to imprison Palestinians without charge or trial for months or years. (AFP/Jack Guez)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Palestinian Prime Minister’s office called on Tuesday for the immediate release of Bilal Kayid, saying that Israel’s “horrific treatment” of the hunger-striking prisoner amounted to “torture.”

Kayid has been on hunger strike for 70 days after Israeli authorities sentenced him to administrative detention -- internment without trial or charges -- on the day he was scheduled to be released from prison after serving a 14-and-a-half year sentence.

Kayid has since been hospitalized after his health severely deteriorated. However, the Israel Prison Service (IPS) has kept him shackled to his hospital bed and has had guards surrounding him at all times.

“Israel’s horrific treatment of Bilal Kayid amounts to torture,” Jamal Dajani, the director of strategic communications at the Prime Minister’s Office, said. “The decision to keep Mr. Kayid imprisoned after he served his sentence is inhumane and violates basic human rights.”

“Israel is violating all medical ethics by shackling a human being like an animal,” Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said in Tuesday’s statement. “The Israeli authorities are directly responsible for Mr. Kayid’s well-being and should release him immediately.”

An appeal was also presented to the Israeli Supreme Court on Wednesday regarding the conditions in which Kayid was being held, in response to an earlier Israeli court decision which rejected a request that he no longer be handcuffed to his hospital bed and be allowed to have an outside doctor check on his health.

Kayid is one of the most high-profile hunger strikers since Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq came near death during a 94-day hunger strike protesting his administrative detention order, before he was finally released in May.

Scores of Palestinian prisoners have joined a large-scale solidarity movement with Kayid and other prisoners on hunger strike to denounce their administrative detention.

The movement has been met by an equally massive crackdown mostly on prisoners affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) -- the party to which Kayid is affiliated -- 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 administrative detention, which allows Israel to detain someone without trial or charge, is almost exclusively used against Palestinians and 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.

According to Addameer, as of July, 7,000 Palestinians were being held in Israeli prisons, 750 of whom were being held under administrative detention.
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