Palestinian hunger strikes protest jailing policy

Protesters, clutching pictures of Hana Shalabi outside Ofer prison, shout slogans at IDF soldiers guarding the facility.

March 15, 2012 18:35
1 minute read.
Palestinians hold pictures of Hana Shalabi

Palestinian protesters hold pictures of Hana Shalabi 370 R . (photo credit: REUTERS)

RAMALLAH - The deteriorating health of a Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike for the past month is focusing international attention on Israel's decades-old use of detention without trial.

Shrouded by winter gloom, Palestinian protesters clutching pictures of Hana Shalabi gathered on Thursday outside Ofer prison, the largest in the West Bank, and shouted slogans at IDF soldiers guarding the facility.

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The 30-year-old has refused to consume anything but water since being arrested in the West Bank village of Burqin last month and held on terms of "administrative detention." Shalabi is now suffering spells of dizziness, muscular wasting and loss of consciousness, her lawyers and medical observers say.

Her protest is part of a spreading movement by Palestinian prisoners ignited in December by Khader Adnan who ended a near-fatal fast of 66 days after Israeli authorities agreed to cut his detention period.

Shalabi and Adnan are affiliated with Islamic Jihad, a terrorist group which earlier this week was engaged in days of combat with Israel in Gaza and the South during which more than a dozen of its members were killed by IAF air strikes.

With Shalabi's condition serious, and 23 other Palestinians pledging not to eat while in Israeli custody, calls have mounted for Israel to repeal the controversial policy it has applied to detainees from the West Bank.

Last month, Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief, expressed "longstanding concern about the extensive use by Israel of administrative detention without formal charge."

In many instances, the IDF explains detentions in terms of their security concerns, and bases cases on evidence from local informants or members of its own security services whose identities are not revealed.

The High Court has upheld the procedure for decades, siding with the government's argument that detention without trial is a necessary security measure.

The IDF arrested Shalabi in mid-February from her home in the village of Burkin, near Jenin, and placed her under administrative detention for six months.

Shalabi was previously released in the Gilad Schalit prisoner-exchange agreement in October 2011 after spending 25 months in administrative detention.

Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report

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