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Israel transfers hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner between prisons

March 6, 2017 7:10 P.M. (Updated: March 7, 2017 4:50 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli authorities on Monday transferred hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner Jamal Abu al-Leil from his solitary confinement cell in southern Israel’s Ashkelon prison to solitary confinement in Ramon prison, also located in southern Israel, according to the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs.

The statement did not comment on why Abu al-Leil was transferred, though it added that he has been suffering from exhaustion, weight loss, and stomach and back pains as a result of his 19-day hunger strike in which he has continued to consume water, refusing all vitamins and supplements.

A spokesperson from the Israel Prison Service (IPS) told Ma'an that Abu al-Leil was transferred "for administration reasons."

The committee said last week that Abu al-Leil was being held in a small cell in Ashkelon prison, “lacking the simplest necessities of life, emptied of electrical appliances, covers, and extra clothes, leaving Abu al-Leil with nothing but the clothes he is wearing."

Abu al-Leil began his strike on Feb. 16 along with fellow resident of Qalandiya refugee camp Raed Mteir, after being imprisoned by Israel without charge or trial under administrative detention.

Israeli authorities issued six-month administrative detention orders for the two prisoners three times since they were detained more than a year ago.

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

Mteir has since ended his hunger strike after going 12 days without food, upon reaching an agreement to be released in April 2017 without his administrative detention being renewed.

Activists on Sunday marched from the Qalandiya refugee camp to al-Manara square in the center of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank to express solidarity with Abu al-Leil, with demonstrators waving Palestinian flags and flags of the Fatah movement.

After the march, activists returned to Qalandiya refugee camp and marched from there to the Israeli military checkpoint at the entrance to the camp, where they clashed with Israeli soldiers.

A group of protesters staged a sit-in last week in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners, while activists closed the Jerusalem-Ramallah road for four days in a row in protest of the Palestinian Authority’s perceived inaction in the cases of Abu al-Leil and Mteir.

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.

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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