Palestinians jailed by Israel refuse food for weeks

Palestinians take part in a protest in solidarity with prisoners on hunger striker in Israeli jails, in front of the Red cross office, in the West Bank city of Hebron, on August 20, 2019. Eight Palestinian prisoners are now on hunger strike against their administrative detention. The first to start the strike was Huthaifa Halabiya 49 days ago and other detainees followed him. Photo by Mosab Shawer

Tamara Nassar

The Electronic Intifada  /  September 2, 2019

Huthaifa Halabiya hasn’t eaten in more than 60 days.

Halabiya, 28, from the Palestinian village of Abu Dis near Jerusalem, has been in Israeli prisons without charge or trial since 10 June 2018.

This is his fourth detention since 2013, but the first administrative one.

He is one of eight Palestinian prisoners who have been refusing food for weeks in protest of their administrative detention.

Administrative detention orders are typically issued for six-month periods but can be renewed indefinitely.

Under such orders, Israeli occupation forces hold individuals without charge or trial and detainees are not allowed to see evidence against them.

This Israeli practice is a direct continuation of British colonial rule and may constitute a war crime.

Israel is currently holding 460 Palestinians in administrative detention.

Two months without food

Halabiya told his lawyers he would begin refusing water this month to escalate his strike.

His wife was pregnant at the time of the arrest, and gave birth to their daughter, Majdal, while he was imprisoned.

Halabiya has had no contact with his family for most of his strike and imprisonment. He has also never met his daughter.

Held on the pretext of supposed secret evidence, Halabiya is denied by Israel any semblance of due process.

He was hospitalized in isolation at the Ramle prison clinic as his health began to deteriorate.

A lawyer from prisoner rights group Addameer visited Halabiya on 12 August.

The lawyer reported that he was “in a wheelchair with his hands and feet in chains despite his health condition.”

Halabiya told Addameer’s lawyer that Israeli special forces raided his cell during the second month of his hunger strike, vandalized it, harassed him, dumped his water and salt and threatened him to halt his strike.

Earlier, Halabiya told Addameer that he was harassed and provoked even by Israeli nurses to pressure him to end his strike.

Addameer called upon the International Committee of the Red Cross to pressure Israel to release Halabiya.

Leftist political party the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said its representatives in Israel’s prisons are negotiating with prison authorities regarding Halabiya’s case.

But Halabiya is insisting he won’t halt his strike until his demands are met, the party said.

Cancer survivors

Halabiya had health problems even before his strike.

He sustained severe burns as a child and later developed leukaemia, requiring regular follow up, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Club.

Another leukaemia survivor, Ahmad Ghannam, has been on hunger strike for more than 50 days in protest of the renewal of his administrative detention.

The 42-year-old father of two is from the Palestinian village of Dura near the occupied West Bank city of Hebron.

Ghannam was also transferred to medical care following a severe deterioration in his health.

His family said Ghannam can no longer stand up and has lost a lot of weight.

Israel has held Ghannam without charge or trial since 28 June. He previously spent nine years in Israeli prisons.

Other hunger strikers

Palestinian prisoner Sultan Khallouf, 38, from the northern West Bank village of Burqin, near Jenin, has been refusing food for almost 50 days, also in protest against his administrative detention.

Ismail Ali, 30, another prisoner from Abu Dis, has been refusing food for some 40 days as well.

Palestinian prisoner Tariq Qaadan, 46, has been on hunger strike for more than 30 days.

Qaadan, from the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, spent 11 years in Israeli prisons, many under administrative detention.

Naser al-Jadaa, 30, has been on strike for more than 25 days.

During a rally to support al-Jadaa in his hometown of Burqin, veteran hunger striker Khader Adnan delivered a speech in solidarity with the prisoners.

Palestinian prisoners Thaer Hamdan, 30, and Fadi al-Hurub, 27, haven’t eaten in more than 20 days.

Meanwhile, Wajdi Awawdeh suspended his hunger strike of more than 25 days after Israeli prison authorities agreed to release him in February.

Awawdeh is also from Dura.

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada