On Saturday, Palestinian prisoner Muhammed Halas was transferred to Ramleh prison medical center after twelve days on hunger strike, joining seven other long-term hunger strikers, including two that have had no food for sixty days.1200 Palestinian prisoners began an open-ended hunger strike on April 17th, Palestinian Prisoners Day, joining eight prisoners who began hunger strikes in March. In the days since, they have been joined by hundreds more prisoners.
The open-ended hunger strikes are meant to challenge Israel’s policy of administrative detention, in which Palestinians can be abducted by Israeli military forces from the occupied West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem, and held without charges or trial for years on end.
Mohammed Halas is the latest prisoner to be transferred to the prison medical facility after his health began to deteriorate from the extended hunger strike.
Two prisoners, Thaer Halahleh and Bilal Diab, marked their 60th day of hunger striking on Saturday. Both men are facing organ failure and death in a matter of days, but have both pledged to continue their hunger strikes until death or until their release. Halahleh and Diab both had their cases heard by an Israeli judge on Monday April 23rd, and their appeals for release were both rejected.
According to the Palestinian Prisoners organization, Addameer, “On 24 April, Hassan Safadi’s petition to the Israeli High Court against his administrative detention was rejected. He is on his 52nd day of hunger strike. Administrative detainees Omar Abu Shalal and Jaafar Azzedine are on their 50th and 35th days of hunger strike respectively. Also now in Ramleh prison medical center are Mohammad Taj, on his 39th day of hunger strike demanding to be treated as a prison of war, and Mahmoud Sarsak, on his 34th day of hunger strike in protest of being held under Israel’s Unlawful Combatants Law. Lastly, Abdullah Barghouti, held in isolation in Rimon prison, is on his 14th day of hunger strike. Addameer reiterates its grave concern that these hunger strikers are not receiving adequate healthcare in the IPS medical center and that independent doctors are still being denied visits to them.”
Addameer also criticized the Israeli government’s decision to transfer many of the prisoners on hunger strike to solitary confinement, where they have been held for the last ten days in violation of international law.
The long term hunger strikers have followed the lead of Khader Adnan, who was released on April 17th after nearly dying from 67 days on hunger strike. Female detainee Hana Shalabi was exiled to the Gaza Strip after nearly 60 days on hunger strike.
According to Addameer, the hunger strike continues to grow, with the six female prisoners in Hasharon who are not already on hunger strike planning to begin an open hunger strike on 1 May. Additional prisoners are also expected to gradually join the campaign, including 120 in Ofer prison, who will start their hunger strike on 29 April.