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Committee: Israel ‘deliberately’ tries to kill Palestinian hunger strikers

Gazans gather to show solidarity with hunger striking prisoners at the headquarters of The Palestinian Legislative Council, on August 4 2016
Gazans gather to show solidarity with hunger striking prisoners at the headquarters of The Palestinian Legislative Council, on August 4 2016

Head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, Issa Qaraqe accused Israeli authorities of “deliberately” attempting to kill Palestinian hunger strikers, while Israeli authorities have employed several tactics to convince a Palestinian hunger striker to break his strike, according to statements released on Thursday.

The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement that Palestinian hunger striker Ammar Ibrahim Hamour, 28, who has been on hunger strike for 18 days in protest of being held in administrative detention, told a PPS lawyer Khalid Mahajna that Israel Prison Service (IPS) has been attempting to pressure him to end his strike.

According to the lawyer, Hamour has been held in solitary confinement in Israel’s Ashkelon detention centre after being transferred from Israel’s Ktziot prison a few days prior, and informed Mahajna that he was being kept in “very bad conditions”, while IPS officials have teased the hunger striker with meals. An Israeli doctor also visited him in the prison to convince him to take vitamins, according to the statement.

However, Hamour has continued to reject food and vitamins, only consuming water during his hunger strike. He has begun to suffer from stomach pains and is now suffering from a sleeping disorder due to his strike.

Hamour is from the northern occupied West Bank city of Jenin and declared his hunger strike on 21 November.

Qaraqe said in a statement that Israeli authorities have “deliberately” attempted to kill Palestinian hunger strikers by allowing their health to deteriorate, while forcing them into “difficult circumstances”, emphasising that Anas Shadid and Ahmad Abu Farah have gone without food for 76 and 77 days, respectively against being held in administrative detention.

Shadid, 20, and Abu Farah, 29, both residents of the southern occupied West Bank village of Dura, have been reported in “critical condition” this week.

Qaraqe called Israel’s slow “killing of Palestinian hunger strikers” a “crime”, and urged the international community to intervene, adding that Israel’s treatment of Palestinian hunger strikers represented a “humanitarian crisis”, and that Israel was fully responsible for the conditions of Palestinians in Israeli prisons that have forced scores to go on hunger strike.

He also said that 75 days was the “maximum” that a hunger striker could continue their strike only consuming water, noting that Shadid and Abu Farah were both experiencing worsening health as their organs were failing.

Qaraqe added that four Palestinian prisoners were currently on hunger strike: Anas Shadid, Ahmad Abu Farah, Ammar Ibrahim Hamour and Kifah Hatab.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, Muhammad, 26, and Mahmoud Balboul, 23, were released from Israeli prison after going on hunger strike for 77 and 79 days respectively after being placed under administrative detention.

Scores of Palestinian prisoners have launched hunger strikes in the past year to protest various issues, most notably administrative detention. The most prominent hunger strikers included Muhammad al-Qiq, Bilal Kayid, and the now iconic brothers Muhammad and Mahmoud Balboul.

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 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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