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Palestinian prisoner opens hunger strike as Israel extends her detention

Jan. 27, 2017 1:00 P.M. (Updated: March 6, 2017 10:53 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Palestinian prisoner Randa al-Shahatit, a resident of the southern occupied West Bank Hebron-area village of Dura, began an open hunger strike on Thursday in protest of her ongoing detention in solitary confinement by Israeli forces, according to a lawyer from the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS).

Israel's Ofer military court on Thursday extended al-Shahatit’s detention in Israel’s HaSharon prison to 12 days, until Feb. 6. She had been “returning main meals” for a few days prior, according to PPS lawyer Abed al-Nasser al-Nubani, officially declaring an open hunger strike on Thursday, demanding an end to her solitary confinement and her full release from detention.

Al-Shahatit, a former prisoner and mother of three, has spent several years in Israeli custody, having been detained at least four times. She was released in 2011 as part of the Shalit deal wherein the Hamas movement negotiated the exchange of more than 1,500 political prisoners from Israeli custody in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who Hamas had captured five years prior to his release.

She was re-detained on Jan. 20 at a checkpoint at the entrance to al-Fuwwar refugee camp in Hebron, only two weeks after the end of a six-month period of house arrest, according to Palestinian prisoner solidarity network Samidoun.

In August 2016, al-Shahatit was detained by Israeli forces who sought to re-impose her earlier sentence on the basis of secret evidence before a closed military committee, under Israel's widely-condemned policy of administrative detention. She was released nearly two weeks later on bail conditions, including restricting her movement to her home town of Dura.

On Jan. 3, it was announced that her sentence would not be reimposed and her bail conditions were lifted. Now, she is being accused of violating her bail conditions during that earlier period, Samidoun reported.

Since the Shalit deal, Israel has initiated mass detention campaigns to bring hundreds of former prisoners released in the exchange back into Israeli custody, in violation of the agreement.

Hamas has repeatedly insisted that Israel must release all prisoners who were freed as part of the deal but have since been redetained, before starting talks in a new prisoner swap deal.

According to Palestinian prisoners' rights group Addameer, some 7,000 Palestinians were held in Israeli custody as of October, 64 of whom were women and girls.

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