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Committee demands hunger-striking prisoners receive treatment on 28th day

May 14, 2017 4:50 P.M. (Updated: May 15, 2017 12:05 P.M.)
Some of Palestine's most high-profile prisoners. From left to right: Fouad Shubaki, Nael Barghouthi, Karim Yunis, Ahmad Saadat, Marwan Barghouthi
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs demanded that Palestinian prisoners who entered their 28th day on hunger strike in Israeli prisons on Sunday be hospitalized, as their health continued to decline.

Committee head Issa Qaraqe said in statement that hunger strikers urgently needed be taken to hospitals for treatment, under the medical supervision of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) doctors.

Qaraqe said that Israeli authorities’ refusal to hospitalize the prisoners, choosing instead to continue holding them in solitary confinement under “inhumane conditions,” represented a violation of international law.

He condemned the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) for its indifference to the lives of hunger-striking prisoners as their health steadily declined, and slammed IPS for its “continued failure to respond to the prisoners’ fair demands and its refusal to engage in negotiations with leaders of the hunger strike.”

The Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike have been calling for an end to the denial of family visits, the right to pursue higher education, appropriate medical care and treatment, and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention -- imprisonment without charge or trial -- among other demands for basic rights.

Qaraqe called upon the ICRC to issue a detailed report about the prisoners' healths and to immediately undertake measures to protect hunger strikers from continued mistreatment and abuse at the hands of IPS authorities.

Hunger strikers have been punished by being placed in filthy solitary confinement cells and have also faced physical assault, psychological torture, confiscation of their personal belongings and drinking water, among other humiliating and violent measures since some 1,500 prisoners began refusing meals on April 17.

As of Friday, a reported 1,300 Palestinians were still participating in the strike, according to Qaraqe.

Qaraqe also called upon the ICRC to pressure Israel to respond to the prisoners’ demands, stressing that the responsibility fell on ICRC in its capacity as a humanitarian organization to ensure humane treatment for prisoners in accordance to international human rights standards.

The ICRC has been the target of sustained frustration for its perceived inability to improve incarceration conditions in Israeli prisons, as it prioritizes maintaining its role as an “impartial humanitarian mediator,” and faced anger last year when it reduced the number of monthly visits it facilitates for relatives of Palestinian prisoners.

Qaraqe concluded his statement by offering his condolences to the family of 23-year-old Saba Abu Ubeid, who was shot and killed by Israeli forces Friday after clashes broke out during a march in support of Palestinians on the mass hunger strike.

Hunger strikers in Nafha prison fainting, vomiting blood

The media committee established by The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs and the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) to support the hunger strike released a statement Sunday, reporting that several hunger-striking prisoners in Nafha prison were fainting and vomiting blood.

According to the statement, a PPS lawyer was able to visit two hunger strikers in Nafha -- Muhammad al-Ghoul and Yahya Ibrahim, both from Tulkarem in the northern occupied West Bank.

The lawyer reported that the two prisoners were entering a “dangerous” health condition, worsening by the day, amid continuous aggressive measures taken by IPS, highlighting in particular the invasive predawn cell raids and searches being conducted on hunger strikers.

Al-Ghoul and Ibrahim told the PPS lawyer that 90 percent of hunger strikers in Nafha prison were suffering from deteriorating health conditions, most of whom were fainting repeatedly throughout the day.

The ill hunger-striking prisoners are taken to one of the so-called field clinics set up by Israel in anticipation of the hunger strike, established to avoid evacuating hunger strikers to civilians hospitals.

According to the two prisoners, the field hospital is not properly equipped and “does not provide any type of medical care.”

Al-Ghoul and Ibrahim confirmed to the lawyer that prisoners in Nafha were still committed to continuing with the hunger strike until a decision was made by its leadership, despite their suffering.

Ahmad Saadat to receive lawyer visit at Ohalei Kedar prison

Meanwhile, after being transferred from solitary confinement in Ashkelon prison to a solitary confinement cell in Ohalei Kedar prison last Thursday, Secretary-General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Ahmad Saadat was set to receive a lawyer visit Sunday at 3 p.m.

Palestinian media sites mistakenly reported earlier that IPS transferred him Sunday morning in an effort to disrupt the scheduled visit, however prisoners solidarity network Samidoun said that the transfer took place Thursday and the visit was expected to go forward as planned in Ohalei Kedar.

Israeli authorities previously rejected several visit request by prisoners’ rights group Addameer and Saadat’s family, after he joined the mass hunger strike on May 3 along with a number of leaders from across Palestinian political lines.

The media committee also denied rumors that circulated Saturday evening that a Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike died in Ramla prison, and called upon the public not to publish any uncertain information about the health of prisoners before checking official sources.
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