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Israeli forces threaten to force feed hunger striker Omar Nazzal

Aug. 9, 2016 8:19 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 10, 2016 4:05 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Palestinian hunger-striking prisoner Omar Nazzal told a Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) lawyer on Tuesday that he was being treated “brutally” by Israel Prison Service (IPS) as they threatened to force feed him when he was moved back to Israel’s Ofer prison following a court session on Monday.

Nazzal, 53, reportedly told the PPS lawyer who visited him in prison that he was also held in a van used for transporting prisoners for hours until he almost suffocated.

He added that he would continue with his hunger strike first launched on August 4 in protest of his administrative detention -- an Israeli policy of imprisonment without charge or trial -- and in support of hunger striker Bilal Kayid, who has gone more than 50 days without food.

Nazzal, a member of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, was detained by Israeli forces in April and put in administrative detention.

Brothers Muhammad and Mahmoud Balboul have also been on hunger strike for more than 30 days to denounce their own administrative detentions.

Since Kayid began refusing food, prisoners have launched solidarity strikes on a rolling basis to support Kayid and demand an end to Israel’s use of administrative detention. The hunger strikes quickly spread across Israeli prisons, with at least 80 Palestinian prisoners joining from various political parties.

The large-scale solidarity movement among prisoners has resulted in an equally massive crackdown on mostly Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) prisoners by the IPS, which has conducted multiple raids, cell block closures, confiscations of personal property, and transfers of detainees in attempts to quell the strikes.

Israel has stepped up a crackdown on Palestinian journalists and media organizations since a wave of unrest increased in October. While the Israeli authorities have said those targeted were responsible for incitement against Israel, rights groups argue the crackdown is a blatant violation of media freedoms.

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.

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