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4 hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners in critical condition, handcuffed to hospital beds

Aug. 27, 2016 4:52 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 10, 2016 8:35 P.M.)
Noran Balboul stands next to a line of portraits dedicated to her hunger-striking brothers at the Bethlehem sit-in to support Palestinian prisoners on August 2, 2016 (MaanImages/Jaclynn Ashly)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Four Palestinian hunger-striking prisoners are reportedly in critical condition at Israel’s Assaf Harofeh Hospital, according to a statement released Saturday by the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, as 120 other Palestinian prisoners continued hunger strikes in a mass solidarity movement.

The four hunger strikers were identified by the committee as Muhammad and Mahmoud Balboul, who have been on strike for 51 and 53 days respectively, Ayyad al-Hreimi and Malek al-Qadi who have both been on strike for more than 40 days. All of the hunger strikers remained handcuffed to their hospital beds, according to the statement.

Each of the prisoners declared a hunger strike in protest of being placed in administrative detention -- an Israeli policy of detention without charge or trial almost exclusively used against Palestinians.

The committee said in the statement that the hunger strikers were in “dire health conditions,” as they have lost significant amounts of weight and have been suffering from pains and numbness in their bodies.

The committee warned of the critical nature of their health conditions and demanded popular, legal, and political efforts to help save their lives.

The committee added that 120 Palestinian prisoners have continued their solidarity strikes first launched in support of Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) member Bilal Kayid, who ended his 71-day hunger strike on Wednesday, saying that the Israel Prison Service (IPS) has continued to impose punishments on the prisoners, including group confinement, banning visits, and imposing fines.

A meeting was reportedly held between the prisoners and IPS officials to discuss the situation, but they did not reach an agreement, the committee said in the statement.

The current hunger strikers declared their strikes amid a mass movement that spread across Israel’s prisons when Kayid announced his strike on June 14 after being sentenced to administrative detention on the day he was expected to be released after serving a 14-and-half-year sentence.

Kayid was one of the most high-profile hunger strikers since Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq came near death during a 94-day hunger strike protesting his administrative detention order, before being released in May.

Israel’s policy of administrative detention, which allows Israel to detain someone without trial or charge, is almost exclusively used against Palestinians and 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.

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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