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Qalandiya refugee camp activists continue to block road in support of hunger strikers

Feb. 28, 2017 12:20 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 28, 2017 3:25 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- For the third consecutive day, activist youth from Qalandiya refugee camp in the central occupied West Bank blocked off a main road connecting Ramallah to Jerusalem in solidarity with two residents of the camp staging hunger strikes in Israeli prisons, as they called for the Palestinian Authority (PA) to intervene to secure the release of the prisoners, who have been held without charge for more than a year.

Protesters placed huge dumpsters and burning rubber tires in the middle of the street, preventing commuters and students -- especially residents of the northern outskirts of Jerusalem -- from passing in either direction.

Qalandiya refugee camp residents Jamal Abu al-Leil, 50, and Raed Fayez Mteir, 47, declared hunger strikes on Feb. 16, after being imprisoned by Israel without charge or trial for one year under the widely condemned policy of administrative detention. Israeli authorities have issued six-month administrative detention orders for the two prisoners three times since they were detained.

Abu al-Leil is a former member of Fatah’s revolutionary council, while Mteir is head of the Qalandiya youth center. Both had been previously detained by Israel several times.

Last week, Israeli authorities transferred the two hunger strikers out of Ktziot prison, sending Abu al-Leil to Eshel prison and Mteir to Ashkelon prison.

The two have joined imprisoned journalist Muhammad al-Qiq who has been on hunger strike for at least 21 days to protest his administrative detention.

Al-Qiq, who lives in Ramallah and is originally from Dura in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, was released from prison in May last year after he refused food for a grueling 94 days -- also in protest of his administrative detention at the time.

However, al-Qiq was redetained in mid-January after he participated in a protest in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem demanding the release of bodies of slain Palestinians held in Israeli custody.

Al-Qiq’s previous imprisonment by Israel -- widely condemned by the United Nations, Amnesty International, and other rights groups -- and subsequent hunger strike cast a spotlight on Israel’s use of administrative detention, its arbitrary imprisonment of Palestinians, and the concerted targeting of Palestinian journalists.

While 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 that 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 say that Israel's administrative detention policy has also been used as an attempt to disrupt Palestinian political and social processes, notably targeting Palestinian politicians, activists, and journalists.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority has long been accused of security coordination with Israel and what critics have called "a revolving door policy" of funneling Palestinians from PA jails into Israeli prisons through politically motivated arrests.

According to Addameer, as of January, 6,500 Palestinians were being held in Israeli prisons, 536 of whom were being held under administrative detention.
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