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Malik al-Qadi's mother summoned to hospital as hunger striker slips into coma on 56th day of strike

Sept. 10, 2016 2:45 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 14, 2016 3:44 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Israeli prison administration Friday urgently summoned mother of hunger striker Malik al-Qadi to the Wolfson Medical Center where the 25-year-old has reportedly entered a coma.

Al-Qadi has been on hunger strike for 56 days after declaring a strike on July 16 in protest of being placed in administrative detention -- an Israeli policy of internment without charge or trial based on undisclosed evidence.

Executive Director of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) Abdallah al-Zhgari told Ma’an that a permit was urgently issued for al-Qadi’s mother following a severe deterioration of the hunger striker’s health. Al-Zhgari noted that PPS had previously applied for permits to allow the mothers of al-Qadi and the hunger-striking Balboul brothers to visit their sons.

Al-Zghari emphasized that al-Qadi’s mother had visited him on Friday after his administrative detention was suspended by an Israeli court, and has since remained by his side. Al-Zghari added that families are permitted to visit the hunger strikers once their administrative detentions have been suspended.

Al-Zghari also highlighted to Ma’an that Israeli prison officials are attempting to force treatment on al-Qadi in order to get him out of the coma, despite al-Qadi previously announcing his refusal to be treated during his strike regardless of his health condition.

Al-Zghari told Ma’an he feared al-Qadi could die at any moment.

An emergency session is expected to be held on Saturday in an Israeli court to respond to a request made by al-Qadi’s lawyer to release him due to his health condition, al-Zghari said.

All-Qadi was detained on May 23 and had previously spent four months in Israeli custody after being detained in December 2015.

He is a journalism and media student at al-Quds University in Abu Dis.

On Friday, an Israeli court temporarily suspended al-Qadi’s administrative detention, just one day following the suspension of the Balboul brothers’ detentions. In all three cases, the courts said the sentences would be suspended until their health conditions improve.

However, all three prisoners have steadfastly committed to their hunger strikes until they are completely released from administrative detention.

Brothers Mahmoud and Muhammad Balboul, who began their strikes on July 4 and 7 respectively, were permitted to speak with their family over the phone on Wednesday for the first time since they were taken by Israeli soldiers after a raid on their home on June 9, shortly before their younger sister Nuran, 16, was released after spending four months in Israeli prison.

Since the start of their strikes, their mother, Sanaa Balboul, has had to depend on lawyers to inform her on the conditions of her sons. Sanaa told Ma’an that her sons would periodically send her messages through the lawyers, describing all the food they want her to cook for them when they are finally released.

As videos circulated throughout social media of Sanaa and Nuran speaking with Muhammad and Mahmoud, the brothers were visibly exhausted and gaunt, while Muhammad was shown to be suffering from temporary blindness. The brothers told their bereaved mother and sister that they would continue their strike until Israel releases them.

Rights groups have claimed that Israel's administrative detention policy has been used as an attempt to disrupt Palestinian political processes, notably targeting Palestinian politicians, activists, students, and journalists. Sanaa told Ma'an she believes her children are being targeted as a result of her late husband's political activities with the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the armed wing of the Fatah movement. He was shot dead by undercover Israeli forces in 2008.

However, at other times, it has remained a mystery as to why some Palestinians are detained by Israeli forces who have not committed a crime, participated in political activities, nor have relations to any Palestinian political leader. As detainees and their lawyers are barred from viewing evidence related to the case, families are left to wonder what reasons could be behind the imprisonment of their children.

Although Israeli authorities claim the withholding of evidence during administrative detention is essential for state security concerns, rights groups have instead claimed the policy allows Israeli authorities to hold Palestinians for an indefinite period of time without showing any evidence that could justify their detentions.

Prisoners' rights group Addameer has accused Israel of using the policy in order to inflict "collective punishment" on the whole of the Palestinian population, saying that the policy is a "political action that reflects the Israeli occupation’s official policy against Palestinians," adding that the "widespread and systematic" use of the policy by Israeli authorities is prohibited under international law.

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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