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Hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner rushed to hospital amid mounting solidarity movement

July 17, 2016 6:58 P.M. (Updated: July 18, 2016 6:02 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – The Israeli Prison Service (IPS) on Sunday afternoon rushed hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner Bilal Kayid to Israel’s Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, after his health suddenly deteriorated as he entered his 33rd day without food, according to a statement released by the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs.

Meanwhile, some 37 Palestinians prisoners have begun open hunger strikes in solidarity with Kayid, while hundreds more have undertaken short-term hunger strikes, and prisoners of all Palestinian factions announced intentions to participate in escalating steps of protest in the coming week.

Palestinian prisoner solidarity network Samidoun reported Sunday that Farah Bayadsi, a lawyer with prisoners’ rights group Addameer, confirmed the transfer, saying that Kayid had been experiencing nausea, inability to walk, dizziness, fatigue, and insomnia, while having lost a significant amount of weight.

According to Bayadsi, Kayid is to remain in the hospital for at least one day and that Addameer was arranging a hospital visit to confirm his condition.

After being sentenced to six months of administrative detention the day he was set to be released upon serving 14 and a half years in prison, Kayid started his hunger strike, refusing food, supplements, and medical examinations, consuming only water.

According to Samidoun, Kayid began refusing to speak to Israeli prison authorities on July 14.

Since he began his strike, hundreds of Palestinians prisoners have undertaken short-term hunger strikes in protest of his administrative detention.

Meanwhile, dozens of prisoners affiliated to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the left-wing group of which Kayid is part, have launched open hunger strikes.

According to Samidoun, 10 PFLP prisoners in Ofer prison began strikes, in addition to 10 in Ramon, two in Eshel, and 15 in Megiddo and Gilboa prisons.

News of Kayid’s deteriorating health came hours after Israeli forces raided a section Ramon prison, which holds exclusively prisoners affiliated with the PFLP.

Imprisoned PFLP Secretary-General Ahmad Saadat was reportedly held in the section, while the leader of the movement demanding Kayid’s release, Kamil Abu Hanish, was seized and transferred to Gilboa prison, according to Samidoun.

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