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Hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner suffering from temporary blindness

Sept. 5, 2016 5:39 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 5, 2016 8:25 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner Muhammad Balboul was reported to be suffering from “temporary blindness” on Monday, according to the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs.

Tariq Barghouth, a lawyer for the committee said in a statement that Balboul’s temporary blindness was a result of his rapidly and severely deteriorating health.

Balboul, who was rushed to intensive care last week, was reportedly in “very dangerous health condition” on Monday, which Barghouth said was worsened by the hospital management and Israeli government’s attempt to force feed Balboul.

“Israeli attempts to impose forced feeding and nutrition is an inhumane and unethical move against Balboul’s right to protest administrative detention,” Barghouth said.

He added that Israel’s alleged attempt to force feed Balboul against his will procedure was a “violation of all international laws and regulations,” saying that hospital treatment of hunger-striking prisoners should be in accordance with the prisoners’ wishes.

In the statement the committee also demanded the instant release of Balboul by ending his administrative detention -- the Israeli policy used almost exclusively again Palestinians to be detain them without charge or trial -- and to stop the hospital administration from “committing crimes” against Balboul.

The committee also stated that an appeal will soon be submitted to the Israeli Supreme Court to release both Muhammad and his brother Mahmoud, who have both been on hunger strike for more than two months protesting their administrative detention orders.

The news of Muhammad’s temporary blindness came just one day after his brother Mahmoud, who has been on hunger strike in Israeli custody since July 4, was rushed to the intensive care unit at Israel’s Assaf Harofeh Hospital on Sunday following serious health complications.

A statement from the Palestinian Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs said Mahmoud was in a very “severe condition,” as he has lost more than 30 kilograms of his weight and has had difficulty speaking.

The committee said last month that Israeli doctors warned that Balboul could be paralyzed if he continues to refuse to take vitamins. Sunday’s statement highlighted that Balboul has been consuming only water.

Brothers Mahmoud and Muhammad Balboul began their hunger strikes on July 4 and 7 respectively. The brothers were detained on June 9 and sentenced to administrative detention -- an Israeli policy of internment without charge or trial, shortly before their younger sister Nuran, 16, was released after spending four months in Israeli jail.

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