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Israeli court to hear appeal on the release of hunger-striking Balboul brothers

Sept. 6, 2016 7:13 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 14, 2016 3:46 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The Israeli Supreme Court is set to hear an appeal on Wednesday regarding the release of the hunger-striking Balboul brothers, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Affairs Committee said in a statement on Tuesday.

Kamel al-Natour, a lawyer from the committee, said the appeal was presented by the committee demanding the immediate release of the Muhammad and Mahmoud Balboul, emphasizing their critical health conditions which have continued to deteriorate at a rapid pace.

Al-Natour added that the court session is expected to be held at 11:30 am on Wednesday.

The committee continued to call upon the media, lawyers, human rights workers, and Palestinians, urging them to voice their support in order to pressure the court into releasing the hunger strikers.

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 prison.

Last month, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected a similar appeal submitted by the committee to release the brothers from administrative detention.

The hunger strikers have experienced deteriorating health, as both brothers were rushed to the intensive care unit of two Israeli hospitals within a few days of each other as their health conditions took a turn for the worst.

On Monday, Tariq Barghouth, a lawyer for the committee, said in a statement that Muhammad was suffering from temporary blindness, adding that his condition worsened after hospital management and Israeli government officials attempted to force feed him.

Meanwhile, the committee had said in a statement late last month that Mahmoud could become paralyzed if he doesn’t consume vitamins soon. But the hunger striker has steadfastly refused to take supplements and has insisted on continuing his strike and only consuming water.

Mahmoud’s mother, Sanaa Balboul, told Ma’an that a lawyer informed her that Mahmoud now weighs just 40 kilograms, and has difficulty staying conscious. He has also reportedly been equipped with a catheter, as the 23-year-old is now too weak to walk to the bathroom.

Meanwhile, 25-year-old Malik Salah Daoud al-Qadi has been on a hunger strike since July 16, after being detained on May 23. Al-Qadi had previously spent four months in Israeli custody after being detained in December 2015.

Al-Qadi is a journalism and media student at the al-Quds University in Abu Dis.

Last week, Palestinian prisoner Ayyad al-Hreimi suspended his hunger strike after going 48 days without food to protest his administrative detention, following an agreement reached between his lawyer and Israeli prosecutors to release him in February 2017.

By February 2017, Israel will have renewed his administrative detention three times.

Four days after last being released from serving a four-year prison sentence, Israeli forces detained al-Hreimi again alongside his two brothers and two cousins.

Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody began a mass hunger strike movement in support of Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) member Bilal Kayid, who ended his 71-day hunger strike last month.

Kayid was 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 being released in May.

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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