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2 Palestinian hunger strikers face death, as 3 continue their strikes in Israeli prison

Dec. 14, 2016 8:39 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 16, 2016 5:32 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs released a statement Wednesday warning of the imminent death of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners Anas Shadid and Ahmad Abu Farah, who have been on strike for 82 and 83 days respectively, while three other Palestinian prisoners have also continued their hunger strikes for various reasons.

A report released by the committee noted that Palestinian doctor Rafiq Masalha said following medical tests that Shadid suffered from weakness throughout his muscles and extremities, could not sit or stand, and has lost most of his fat. Masalha emphasized that losing more than 15 kilograms of weight was dangerous.

Masalha added that Shadid could also have sustained damage to his brain cells, vision nerves, kidney and liver functions, causing difficulty in speech, focus, and heart and muscle damage.

Meanwhile, Abu Farah has experienced difficulty speaking and suffers from severe eye weakness, affecting his vision. He has also experienced pain in the muscles of his arms and legs, has lost a large amount of fat, and has been suffering from an allergy which has caused pains in his stomach and chest.

Shadid, 20, and Abu Farah, 29, both residents of the southern occupied West Bank village of Dura, are currently being held at the Assaf HaRofeh Hospital. On Monday, the hunger strikers began refusing water in response to an Israeli Supreme Court rejection of their release appeal.

The drastic move came following a series of events Monday morning, in which the Israeli Supreme Court rejected the prisoners’ lawyer Ahlam Haddad’s appeal to release the two, while Israeli prosecutors instead called for the extension of their administrative detention orders.

According to Haddad, the court disregarded and “did not take seriously” the medical reports that showed Abu Farah’s and Shadid’s critical health conditions, indicating that they were facing permanent dysfunction of vital organs and the possibility of severe brain damage.

She also noted on Monday that Shadid had almost entirely lost his sight and ability to speak while Abu Farah had completely lost sight in his right eye and suffered from severe headache and chest pains.

Until Monday, Abu Farah and Shadid had gone without food and refused all forms of nutrition except water in protest of being placed under administrative detention -- an Israeli policy of internment without charge or trial based on undisclosed evidence.

The committee on Wednesday called for immediate actions to prevent the deaths of Shadid and Abu Farah, adding that the Israeli government was entirely responsible for the lives of the hunger strikers.

Rights groups have 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.

The statement also highlighted three other Palestinians currently on hunger strike in Israeli prisons for various reasons.

Palestinian prisoner Ammar Ibrahim Hamour, 28, has been on hunger strike for at least 23 days after declaring a hunger strike last month in protest of being held without charge or trial for more than nine months. He is currently being held in Israel’s Ashkelon prison.

Israeli authorities have issued two six-month administrative detention orders against Hamour since he was initially detained by Israeli forces.

Hamour is from the village of Jabaa in the Jenin district of the northern occupied West Bank. He has been held in administrative detention since Feb. 16.

Meanwhile, Kifah Hattab, 53, declared his hunger strike on Nov. 23, after being transferred to Israel’s Nafha prison a week earlier, as he refused to wear his prisoner uniform or stand in line for the daily prisoners’ count, according to the committee. He has continued to demand that Israeli authorities acknowledge him as a prisoner of war.

According to the committee, he is still being held at Israel’s Nafha prison.

Hattab, from the city of Tulkarem in the occupied West Bank, is a captain pilot in the Palestinian Authority and has been held in Israeli prison since 2003, when he was sentenced to two life sentences for alleged involvement in an armed organization during the Second Intifada.

The committee said in a statement last month that this was not Hattab’s first hunger strike and that the prisoner had launched three strikes in the past in order to be acknowledged as a prisoner of war.

Earlier this year, Hattab launched a 50-day hunger strike, eventually ending his strike after meeting with a lawyer who had arranged for several of Hattab's demands to be met by the Israel Prison Service.

Meanwhile, Mahmoud Shihada, from the West Bank’s Qalandiya refugee camp, has entered the 12th day of his hunger strike, according to the committee, demanding to be transferred to Israel’s Ofer prison in order to avoid the “suffering” when being transferred to the Ofer court from his current holding at Israel’s Nafha prison. Shihada is still awaiting his trial in the Israeli courts.

It was unclear in the statement the date of Shihada’s initial detention and length of time he has been held in Israeli prison.

According to Addameer, 7,000 Palestinians were being held in Israeli prisons as of October, 720 of whom were being held in administrative detention.
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