United Nations Special Rapporteur Richard Falk yesterday, 13 February, called for the immediate release of three Palestinian detainees held without charges by Israel. Mr. Falk expressed deep concern for the fate of Tarek Qa’adan and Jafar Azzidine, who are on their 78th day of hunger strike, and Samer Al-Issawi, who has been on partial hunger strike for over 200 days.
“Continuing to hold Mr Qa’adan, Mr Azzidine and Mr Al-Issawi under these conditions is inhumane. Israel is responsible for any permanent harm,” warned the independent expert designated by the Human Rights Council to monitor and report on Israeli rights violations in Palestine. “If Israeli officials cannot present evidence to support charges against these men, then they must be released immediately.”
“Mr Qa’adan and Mr Azzidine are reportedly on the verge of death, with the threat of a fatal heart attack looming,” the expert noted, recalling that both men were arrested on 22 November 2012 and began their hunger strikes on 28 November, after being sentenced to administrative detention for a period of three months. They were transferred to Assaf Harofi Hospital near Tel Aviv on 24 January 2013 after their conditions deteriorated sharply.
This is the second time that Mr Azzidine and Mr Qa’adan have undertaken hunger strikes against administrative detention, since they took part in the mass hunger strike of Palestinians from 17 April to 14 May 2012. Mr Qa’adan had been released after 15 months of detention on 8 July 2012 and Mr Azzidine had been released on 19 June 2012 after three months of detention, before being re-arrested.
“Israel must end the appalling and unlawful treatment of Palestinian detainees. The international community must react with a sense of urgency and use whatever leverage it possesses to end Israel’s abusive reliance on administrative detention,” urged the Special Rapporteur. Mr Falk noted that Israel currently holds at least 178 Palestinians in administrative detention.