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Hunger-striking prisoner Ahmad Abu Farah briefly enters coma, committee says

Dec. 4, 2016 8:34 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 5, 2016 2:20 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Palestinian hunger-striking prisoner Ahmad Abu Farah briefly entered into a coma on Sunday evening, while fellow imprisoned hunger striker Anas Shadid also remained in critical condition, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said in a statement on Sunday.

The committee added that doctors at Assaf Harofeh medical center where the two Palestinian prisoners are being treated tried to take advantage of Abu Farah’s coma -- which lasted for several minutes -- to forcefully administer him vitamins.

The statement went on to say that Abu Farah and Shadid could die at any minute after going without food for 73 and 72 days respectively in protest of being held in administrative detention -- an Israeli policy of imprisonment without charges or trial.

Shadid, 20, and Abu Farah, 29, both residents of the southern occupied West Bank village of Dura, rejected on Friday a deal which would have seen their administrative detentions renewed for another four months, with a guarantee of release at its conclusion.

The Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs stated last month that both had slipped into a coma and have partially or completely lost their ability to breath, speak, drink, and hear. The committee also warned that Israeli authorities had threatened to force feed both hunger strikers.

Meanwhile, the head of Assaf Harofeh medical center warned of the increasing risk of “sudden death” of both Palestinians last week.

An Israeli court temporarily suspended the prisoners’ detention orders on Nov. 18 due to their deteriorating health conditions, according to Palestinian prisoner solidarity network Samidoun. However, the hunger strikers have continued to refuse food until they are completely released from detention and transferred to a Palestinian hospital from the Israeli hospital they are currently being held in.

Scores of Palestinian prisoners have launched hunger strikes in the past year to protest various issues, most notably administrative detention. The most prominent hunger strikers included Muhammad al-Qiq, Bilal Kayid, and brothers Muhammad and Mahmoud Balboul.

Although Israeli authorities claim the withholding of evidence during administrative detention, which allows detention for three- to six-month renewable intervals, 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.

Rights groups have claimed that Israel's administrative detention policy has been used as an attempt to disrupt Palestinian political and social processes, notably targeting Palestinian politicians, activists, and journalists.

According to Addameer, 7,000 Palestinians were being held in Israeli prisons as of October, 720 of whom were being held in administrative detention.
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