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2 Palestinian hunger strikers held without charge in Israeli prison suffer deteriorating health

Oct. 20, 2016 7:34 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 11, 2016 12:34 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Two hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners have experienced deteriorating health as they remain in solitary confinement in Israeli prison without charge or trial, according to a statement released Thursday by a lawyer from the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS).

The lawyer said in the statement that after visiting Ahmad Abu Farah, 29, and Anas Shadid, 20, in Israel’s Ramla prison, he found that the two prisoners were being held separately in solitary confinement without any electrical appliances, radios, or televisions, while Israel Prison Service (IPS) refused to provide them paper and pens to write letters or complaints to their families.

Shadid and Abu Farah, from the village of Dura and Surif, respectively, in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, have continued to be held in solitary confinement. They were both detained on Aug. 1 and while initial reports had said they began their hunger strikes on Sep. 24 and Sep. 23, respectively, the lawyer said in the statement they had began together on Sep. 25.

The two prisoners have refused medical tests at the Ramla prison clinic, only consuming water, after launching their hunger strikes demanding their release from Israel’s widely condemned policy of administrative detention that allows for the detention of Palestinians for three to six-month renewable intervals based on undisclosed evidence.

The lawyer added that the health conditions of the prisoners were “clearly deteriorating” and were brought into the lawyer visitation area in wheelchairs. In addition to losing 10 kilograms of weight, both hunger strikers are also suffering from severe headaches, dizziness, weak vision, chest pain, asthma, and stomach aches, according to the lawyer.

He added that Abu Farah has begun to periodically throw up blood.

Although Israeli authorities claim the withholding of evidence during administrative detention is essential for state security concerns, rights groups have instead claimed the policy allows Israeli authorities to hold Palestinians for an indefinite period of time without showing any evidence that could justify their detentions.

Rights groups have also claimed that Israel's administrative detention policy has been used as an attempt to disrupt Palestinian political and social processes, notably targeting Palestinian politicians, activists, students, and journalists.

Meanwhile, IPS authorities have regularly used raids, confiscation of personal belongings, and forcible prison transfers to pressure Palestinian prisoners to end their hunger strikes, most notably this summer when a large-scale solidarity movement formed in support of a number of high-profile, hunger-striking prisoners denouncing being held in administrative detention.

IPS officials also routinely place Palestinian hunger strikers into solitary confinement in an effort to exert pressure on the detainees to end their strikes.

Shadid and Abu Farah launched their hunger strikes soon after Muhammad and Mahmoud Balboul and Malik al-Qadi ended their strikes after Israeli authorities vowed not to renew their administrative detentions. Al-Qadi has since returned to his home in Bethlehem, while Muhammad and Mahmoud are expected to be released on Dec. 8.

Muhammad Balboul, 26, had refused food for 77 days since July 7, while his 23-year-old brother Mahmoud had been on hunger strike 79 days since July 5, and 25-year-old Malik al-Qadi declared his hunger strike on July 16, spending 68 days without food.

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