Palestinian hunger striker sparks widespread protest

48 join in support against administrative detention.

July 24, 2016 23:44
2 minute read.
Hebron protest

A Hebron man demonstrates in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on a hunger strike in protest at being held in administrative detention. (photo credit: MUSSA QAWASMA / REUTERS)

The hunger strike by Bilal Kayyid, which is entering its 42nd day, is garnering widespread support in the Palestinian community as 48 other prisoners have begun their own hunger strikes amid rallies in Hebron, Bethlehem, Ramallah and other cities with hundreds of Palestinians supporting the striking prisoners and protesting what they term the unjust policy of administrative detention.

PA Prisoner Affairs Minister Issa Qaraqaa told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that Kayyid intends to continue his hunger strike until he is released from the administrative detention in which he was placed June 15. Under administrative detention, Palestinians are detained based on undisclosed evidence without charge or trial.

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“There are protests in many cities and they will not stop until Kayyid’s demands are met,” said Qaraqaa, who noted that protests throughout Palestinian cities are growing.

According to Maan News, the PA Prisoner Affairs Ministry has called for widespread protests in all Palestinian cities to support the hunger strikers.

Kayyid was arrested in 2002 and sentenced to 14-and-a-half-years in prison for his affiliation with the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which Israel, the European Union and United States have labeled a terrorist group.

He was slated to be released on June 15, but Israeli authorities immediately placed him under administrative detention.

The Israel Prison Service would not comment for this story. However, the IDF holds that administrative detention is a legal measure essential for hindering persons “directly involved in terrorism, whose detention is considered absolutely necessary for imperative reasons of security.”

Kayyid is currently in serious condition at the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon where he was moved when his health deteriorated on the 33rd day of his hunger strike.

Thirty three prisoners declared open hunger strikes on July 18 with more than a dozen other prisoners joining over the past week, according to the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs. Brothers Muhammad and Mahmud al-Balboul, who were detained June 9 and are being held in Ofer prison, have been on hunger strikes for about three weeks.

Palestinian prisoners regularly undertake hunger strikes to protest their detentions. In May, Muhammad al-Qiq was released on the 94th day of his hunger strike.

According to Addameer, a Jerusalem- based Palestinian NGO focusing on Palestinian prisoner issues, as of May, there were some 7,000 Palestinian in Israeli prisons, including 715 being held under administrative detention.

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