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Israeli Supreme Court temporarily suspends detention of Balboul brothers, lawyer rejects court order

Sept. 7, 2016 7:29 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 10, 2016 2:09 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) – The Israeli Supreme Court Wednesday ordered a temporary suspension of the hunger striking Balboul brothers’ administrative detention -- internment without charge or trial -- until their health conditions improve, while the lawyer for the imprisoned brothers steadfastly rejected the order.

The Israeli Supreme Court ordered the temporary suspension following an initial offer by the public prosecution to the Palestinian Committee of Prisoner’s Affairs that has been representing the brothers, according to Eyad Misk, head of the legal unit of the committee

The decision comes in response to an appeal submitted by the committee on behalf of the hunger strikers which was heard on Wednesday in the Supreme Court.

The order states that the Balboul brothers are to be kept in the hospital until their health conditions improve. Once their health conditions stabilize, another court session will be held to either release or sentence them again.

The committee's lawyer rejected the order, instead demanding an immediate release of the brothers and a complete end to their administrative detention.

Misk noted that the court order will allow Israeli authorities to resentence the brothers once their health conditions improve, and did not put an end to their administrative detention, adding that the Supreme Court was in part responsible for the deteriorating health of the hunger strikers.

Misk also emphasized that both brothers have been on hunger strike for more than two months, and remained determined to continue their strikes until they are completely released from administrative detention.

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 shortly before their younger sister Nuran, 16, was released after spending four months in Israeli prison.

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 11, 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.

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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