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Committee: Hunger strikers Shadid and Abu Farah in critical conditions amid court delays

Dec. 21, 2016 1:04 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 29, 2016 3:09 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners Anas Shadid and Ahmad Abu Farah were in critical condition after going 89 and 90 days without food respectively, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said on Wednesday, calling for immediate action to save their lives.

Shadid and Abu Farah were both detained on Aug. 1 and have been on hunger strike since Sept. 24 and Sept. 23 respectively, in protest of their imprisonment without charge or trial under Israel’s widely condemned policy of administrative detention.

In addition to refusing food, Abu Farah and Shadid began refusing to consume water last week after the court rejected an appeal to release them, when Israeli prosecutors instead called for the extension of their administrative detention orders.

Committee lawyers Karim Ajweh and Nassim Abu Ghosh, who visited the two Palestinians currently detained in the Israeli hospital Assaf Harofeh, expressed concern for both hunger strikers.

Ajweh and Abu Ghosh said that Shadid was suffering from pains all over his body, kidney and liver problems, could not move, and had difficulty speaking.

They added that Abu Farah was also in a very critical condition, having also lost the ability to speak and move, and suffered from severe kidney, stomach, and eyesight issues.

The lawyers called for broader pressure to be applied on Israeli authorities to obtain the end of Shadid and Abu Farah’s administrative detentions.

The Israeli Supreme Court held a hearing on Tuesday evening on their cases, but did not take a decision regarding the appeal presented by the hunger strikers’ lawyers, saying it would examine medical reports.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court said it would consider force feeding the two hunger strikers, a decision that could amount to a violation of international law.

Their case is the first to come to the fore since the court decided in September that force feeding hunger strikers was constitutional, despite the practice of force feeding being regarded by internationally accepted medical ethics as a form of torture.

Israel’s use of administrative detention -- which rights groups say is means to hold Palestinians for an indefinite period of time without showing any evidence that could justify their detentions -- has sparked a number of high-profile hunger strikes by Palestinian detainees in recent months, with many of them reporting being threatened with force feeding.

Israeli authorities have waited until the last minute to agree to release hunger strikers who were nearing death, as was the case with the Balboul brothers who went without food for 77 and 79 days, Malik al-Qadi for 68 days, Bilal Kayid for 71 days, and Muhammad al-Qiq for 94 days.

According to Physicians For Human Rights - Israel (PHRI), the ethics committee of the hospital that held former hunger strikers Malik al-Qadi and Muhammad Balboul recommended forcing treatment on the prisoners, though the hospital’s medical staff refused to force treat the hunger strikers against their will.

PHRI said earlier this month that the eleventh hour release pattern that has emerged “enables the Israeli authorities to deal on a case-by-case basis with hunger strikers, avoid their death and the resultant political and media firestorm, while not needing to deal with the root of the hunger strikes -- the use of administrative detention.”
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