BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Two Palestinian prisoners on Wednesday continued their open hunger strikes in protest of being held under administrative detention -- Israel’s widely condemned policy of internment without charge or trial based on undisclosed evidence -- the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement.
PPS said that Rafat Shalash, 34,
from the village of Beit Awwa in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, and Akram al-Fassisi, 34,
from the Hebron-area village of Idhna, were refusing all forms of food and nutrition except for water.
Shalash was detained on Jan. 17, 2016, and was sentenced to administrative detention three times, each time for six months.
The prisoner, who had previously spent around seven years in Israeli custody, declared a hunger strike on March 16.
According to Palestinian prisoner solidarity network Samidoun, al-Fassisi was detained by Israeli forces on Sept. 19, 2016, only two months after his release after nearly two years in administrative detention.
Israeli forces issued a six-month administrative detention order to al-Fassisi -- a husband and father of four -- in September, and renewed his administrative detention on March 18. Al-Fassisi declared a hunger strike the next day.
Both PPS and Samidoun noted that al-Fassisi had been detained by Israeli forces on multiple occasions, and had previously launched two hunger strikes in 2013 and 2014 for 58 and 70 days, respectively, to demand his release from administrative detention.
“In September 2014, al-Fassisi was released in the agreement that ended his 70-day hunger strike, only to be re-arrested once more in November 2014, a similar two-month period between his release and re-arrest in 2016. He had previously been imprisoned in 2011 through 2012, accused of membership in the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement,” Samidoun said.
Al-Fassisi and Shalash join Jenin-area resident Muhammad Nasser Alaqma
, who has been on hunger strike for 26 days, also in protest of his administrative detention, which allows detention for three- to six-month renewable intervals.
Alaqma’s administrative detention order has been renewed three times, each time for four months, since his initial detention on Aug. 16, 2016.
While Israeli authorities claim the withholding of evidence during administrative detention is essential for state security concerns, rights groups have instead claimed that 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 say that Israel's administrative detention policy has also 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, 6,500 Palestinians were detained by Israel as of January, 536 of whom were held in administrative detention.