Palestinians march for hunger strikers

September 8, 2016

Hunger striking prisoners Malik al-Qadi, Mahmoud al-Balboul and Mohammad al-Balboul.

In Bethlehem, hundreds of people participated in a march in solidarity with three Palestinian political prisoners on hunger strike, IMEMC news said on September 6.

The demonstration was organised by the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS), the Palestinian Ministry of Education and local civil society groups.

The prisoners on hunger strike are Mahmoud al-Balboul, Mohammad al-Balboul and Malik al-Qadi. All three are being held in jail on administrative detention orders. Such orders, issued by Israeli judges, allow for prisoners to be held without trial.

The march started at the education ministry’s headquarters and was accompanied by a “freedom train”.

PPS spokesperson Abdullah el Zeghari said: “We organised this event today in Bethlehem as part of our ongoing solidarity with the prisoners, especially those who are on hunger strike. We loudly decry administrative detention as a grave violation of prisoners’ human rights who have been arrested without charges.”

He added: “This is also a message from Palestine to international organisations and movements to actively put more pressure on the Israeli occupation to stop unjust policies that abuse Palestinians political prisoners.”

IMEMC news said that Palestinian political prisoners in four different Israeli detention centres also announced their commitment to take “escalating steps” in support of the prisoners on hunger strike.

Mahmoud, 21-years-old, launched a hunger strike on July 1. His brother Mohammad, 26-years-old, began hunger striking on July 4.

Qadi, 20-years-old, has been on hunger strike since July 16. He is one of 25 Palestinian journalists jailed by Israel.

Mahmoud is in intensive care at Assaf Harofeh hospital outside of Tel Aviv, while Mohammad and Qadi are being held in Wolfson hospital. Mohammad recently started losing his eyesight.

The Palestinian health minister issued a statement on September 4, in which he described the hunger-striking prisoners’ health conditions as critical, and called for their immediate release.

IMEMC news said that, although administrative detention orders technically have an expiration date, “Israeli authorities can — and do — renew administrative orders”.

“Administrative detention orders are based on secret evidence provided by Israeli intelligence. This system allows for de facto indefinite detention.”

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