Dramatic scenes unfolded in the High Court of Justice on Thursday, after a
hunger-striking Palestinian security prisoner fainted during a petition
Bilal Diab, who alongside prisoner Thaer Halahleh has been on a
hunger strike for 66 days, lost consciousness as Supreme Court Justices Elyakim
Rubinstein, Yoram Danziger and Noam Sohlberg heard a petition against the
prisoners’ administrative detention.
When Rubinstein asked the court
whether there was a doctor present, it was MK Dr. Ahmed Tibi (United Arab
List- Ta’al) who got up to aid Diab.
Rubinstein asked Tibi, a trained
physician, to examine Diab, but a guard from the Prisons Service’s Nahshon Unit
refused to let him through, even after a court security guard told him that he
must comply with Rubinstein’s decision.
Tibi informed the justice of the
issue, and Rubinstein immediately issued a written order.
MK was allowed to examine Bilal, and found that the prisoner was in poor
condition, with a body temperature of 35 degrees Celsius and a heart rate of 48
beats per minute.
Tibi asked the Prisons Service to evacuate Bilal to a
hospital immediately, adding that the security prisoner could “barely feel his
Diab was moved to the gastroenterology department of the Assaf
Harofeh Medical Center in Tzrifin, where his lawyer told reporters he was in
Following the incident, the court issued a ruling
stating what had happened, including that Tibi treated Diab.
The court is
expected to make a decision on the petition at a later date.
the incident, Tibi slammed the Prisons Service guard’s conduct as “scandalous”
and “in contempt of court,” and said that someone should be held
Prisons Service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman told The Jerusalem
Post on Thursday afternoon that there were around 1,500 to 1,600 Palestinian
inmates on hunger strike.
However, that number was constantly
fluctuating, Weizman said, adding that there had been no new wave of hunger
strikers in the past few days.
Later on Thursday, around 200 protesters
from human rights and left-wing organizations demonstrated outside the Ramle
Prison, where around 40 Palestinian prisoners are on hunger strike.
the demonstrators were MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad) and members of the Coalition of
Women for Peace (CWP).
CWP coordinator Mahasen Rabus said that the
organization was there to “support the demands of the
Palestinian Arabic language news site al-Quds quoted Tibi on
Thursday as saying that Diab was “really facing death, and reached the point of
requiring transfer to a specialized hospital for comprehensive medical
The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace
Process Robert Serry on Thursday urged the Palestinians and Israelis to find a
solution to the ongoing prisoner hunger strike.
Serry said he was deeply
troubled by reports that at least two striking prisoners, held in administrative
detentions, were in critical conditions.
He asked Israel to abide by its
legal obligations under international law and to do everything in its power to
preserve the health of the prisoners.
Egypt-based news outlet Moheet
reported that Bilal’s lawyer, Jawad Boulus, said the court had provided “clear
instructions to the Prisons Service to ensure the prisoners who appeared in
court received the necessary medical treatment and care.”
Ben Hartman and
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.