Palestinian hunger strikers denied release


Israel’s Supreme Court rejected an appeal for the release of two hunger-striking Palestinians.

In its decision on Monday, the court reportedly said that Bilal Diab, 27, of Jenin, and Thaer Halahla, 33, of Hebron, both members of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization, remained a terror threat to Israel and that a hunger strike is not enough of a reason to release them.

They have been on a hunger strike for 70 days and are hovering near death, according to reports.

The men are protesting being held in administrative detention. A prisoner can be held in administrative detention, without charges being brought, for up to four months; it can also be renewed.

Diab has been in an Israeli jail for nine months, and Halahlah has been in custody for 22 months.

The court said that the length of the time that the men had been in custody merited a review of the concept of administrative detention and that individual cases should be investigated more thoroughly.

Some 1,400 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are on an open-ended hunger strike launched three weeks ago. The mass hunger strike is calling for an end to solitary confinement and isolation; for allowing families of prisoners from the Gaza Strip to visit their loved ones; and allowing prisoners to have newspapers, learning materials and specific television channels. It is also protesting administrative detention.

Ten of the hunger strikers reportedly are currently under hospital supervision.

Hamas has threatened consequences if any of the hunger strikers die. “If that happens, you can expect both the expected and the unexpected from us,” Gaza City Hamas leader Khalil al-Haya said over the weekend.

Israeli prisons commissioner Aharon Franco last week told Palestinian hunger strikers that he had named a panel to address the prisoners’ demands, according to Arab news sources.

More than 4,000 Palestinian prisoners are being held in Israeli jails, with some 320 in administrative detention.

Two high-profile hunger strikers were released earlier this year after cutting deals with Israeli authorities.

Palestinians in Israeli jails set to launch hunger strike


More than 1,600 Palestinians in Israeli jails reportedly are set to launch a hunger strike on what is called Palestinian Prisoners Day.

The coordinated hunger strike is scheduled to begin Tuesday, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported. But it is unclear whether Fatah and Hamas prisoners will begin the hunger strike together, Ma’an reported, citing Issa Qaraqe, the Palestinian Authority prisoners’ affairs minister. Fatah officials believe that starting the hunger strike on Prisoners Day will harm negotiations with Israeli authorities, according to Ma’an.

The mass hunger strike is calling for an end to solitary confinement and isolation; to allow families of prisoners from the Gaza Strip to visit their loved ones; and to allow prisoners to have newspapers, learning materials and specific television channels.

The news agency reported, citing the Gaza-based Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, that four Palestinian prisoners now on hunger strikes are in an Israeli prison hospital and two others are in solitary confinement. The six are being held in administrative detention. A prisoner can be held in administrative detention without charges for up to four months; it can be renewed.

Two high-profile hunger strikers were released after cutting deals with Israeli authorities.

Khader Adnan ended his 66-day hunger strike in mid-February when Israeli prosecutors agreed that his administrative detention would not be renewed. Hana Shalabi, a member of Islamic Jihad, agreed March 29 to end her 43-day hunger strike and be freed in exchange for spending the next three years in Gaza.

Palestinian hunger striker in ‘mortal danger’


A Palestinian woman jailed in Israel who has been on a hunger strike for more than a month is in “immediate mortal danger,” a human rights group said.

Hana Shalbi, a member of Islamic Jihad, is in the 35th day of a hunger strike to protest being held under administrative detention without charges being brought against her.

Shalbi, 30, reportedly was taken to a hospital in Kfar Saba Monday and then returned to prison. She reported to Physicians for Human Rights-Israel that she was handled roughly during the transfers, including being “dragged across the floor.” She has only taken water since her arrest on Feb. 16.

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel is “gravely concerned for the life of Hana Shalabi and call for her immediate transfer to a hospital, with adequate care that is uninterrupted by frequent and unnecessary transfers.”

At least 23 other Palestinian political prisoners are on hunger strikes to protest the use of administrative detention as an indefinite form of detention without charge or trial, according to Physicians for Human Rights.

Shalbi’s hunger strike follows that of another Islamic Jihad member, Khader Adnan, who was protesting his being held in an Israeli prison without charges. Adnan ended his 66-day hunger strike in mid-February when Israeli prosecutors agreed that his administrative detention would not be renewed.

Adnan was released from a hospital on Tuesday, where he had been for treatment ever since he ended his hunger strike.

A prisoner can be held in administrative detention, without charges being brought, for up to four months; it can also be renewed.

Shalbi is the third Palestinian prisoner exchanged for captive soldier Gilad Shalit to be re-arrested. Shalbi served 25 months in administrative detention prior to being set free.