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Hunger-striking prisoner Mahmoud Balboul evacuated to hospital

Aug. 21, 2016 8:53 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 22, 2016 11:06 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner Mahmoud Balboul was evacuated to the Assaf Harofeh hospital on Sunday, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said.

In a statement, the committee said that Balboul suffered from fatigue, severe pains, dizziness and his weight dropped seriously after 49 days on hunger strike.

Mahmoud Balboul and his elder brother Muhammad have been on hunger strike since early July to protest being held in administrative detention -- internment without trial or charges -- by Israel.

Muhammad Balboul, who has been on strike for 52 days, was moved to the al-Ramla hospital on Friday after his health seriously deteriorated.

Muhammad and Mahmoud were detained on June 9 and sentenced to administrative detention just two months after Israeli forces detained their 14-year-old sister Nuran at the 300 Checkpoint in Bethlehem after accusing her of possessing a knife.

An Israeli military court decided earlier this month to confirm the administrative detention sentences of the brothers, after rejecting an appeal by the committee’s lawyers to reduce the sentence.

Muhammad, a dentist, was sentenced to six months of administrative detention, while Mahmoud, a Master’s student at al-Quds University, was sentenced to five months.

Israel’s policy of administrative detention, almost exclusively used against Palestinians, has been widely criticized by rights group which have accused Israel of using the policy to erode Palestinian political and social life by detaining scores of Palestinians without proof of wrongdoing.

Scores of Palestinian prisoners have joined solidarity hunger strikes in support of the Balboul brothers and Bilal Kayid, the highest profile hunger striker since Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq came near death during a 94-day hunger strike before he was finally released in May.

Earlier on Sunday, Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs Director Issa Qaraqe said that Palestinian hunger-striking prisoners were facing “life-threatening situations” in Israeli prisons.

According to Qaraqe, tensions in Israeli prisons where prisoners are hunger striking have been escalating, as a result of what he said was the Israeli Prison Service’s (IPS) “practices of putting Palestinian prisoners under pressure instead of responding to their demands,” something he deemed "an Israeli crime."

According to Addameer, as of July, 7,000 Palestinians were being held in Israeli prisons, 750 of whom were being held under administrative detention.

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