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2 appeals submitted to Israeli Supreme Court for release of hunger-striking prisoners

Dec. 16, 2016 6:01 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 16, 2016 6:57 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Two appeals have been submitted to the Israeli Supreme Court for the immediate release of hunger strikers Anas Shadid and Ahmad Abu Farah by the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs and Israel’s Physicians for Human Rights, according to statements released Thursday and Friday.

The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said in a statement that lawyer Ahlam Haddad has filed a second appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court on Thursday demanding the release of Shadid, 20, and Abu Farah, 29, who have gone without food for 83 and 84 days, respectively.

The committee said that the appeal was filed in response to the dangerous deterioration of the prisoners’ health conditions on their fourth day of rejecting water.

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 that morning, in which the Israeli Supreme Court rejected Haddad’s appeal to release the two, while Israeli prosecutors instead called for the extension of their administrative detention orders.

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.

Meanwhile, Physicians for Human Rights filed an appeal on Friday also demanding the release of the hunger strikers, according to Israeli media. The appeal reportedly referenced their worsening healths and stated that releasing them from Israeli detention would be the only way to save their lives.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) also released a statement on Friday, holding the Israeli government responsible for the rapid deterioration of the hunger strikers’ health conditions.

PA spokesperson Yousif al-Mahmoud said that the PA has followed closely the health of the prisoners and are conducting “efforts at all levels” to save their lives, while calling upon all international and human rights organizations to intervene in order to ensure the hunger strikers' release from Israeli prison.

Al-Mahmoud added that rights groups should condemn the suffering of all Palestinian prisoners, and highlighted that Israel’s use of administrative detention was one of the most unfair legal policies Israel uses against Palestinian prisoners, while also reiterating his demands that all signatories of the Geneva agreements break their silence and save the lives of the hunger strikers.

An Israeli court suspended the prisoners' detention orders on Nov. 18 due to the deteriorating health of the hunger strikers, but the two have expressed their commitment to continue with their hunger strikes until their administrative detentions were lifted completely.

Meanwhile, Ammar Ibrahim Hamour, 28 declared a hunger strike last month in protest of being held in administrative detention for more than nine months. He is currently being held in solitary confinement in Israel’s Ashkelon prison and has gone 25 days without food.

Although Israeli authorities claim the withholding of evidence during administrative detention, which allows detention for three- to six-month renewable intervals, 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 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, and journalists.

According to prisoners' rights group 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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