The hand of a Palestinian inmate is seen in a prison in the West Bank city of Nablus February 11, 2008. .
(photo credit: ELIANA APONTE/REUTERS)
Dozens of Palestinian prisoners being held by Israel plan to launch a hunger strike next month if Israeli authorities do not stop holding Palestinians in administrative detention, a spokesman for a group that represents Palestinian prisoners said.
Administrative detention is a controversial policy by which a judge orders the imprisonment of individuals without informing them of their alleged wrongdoing.
“Prisoners held in administrative detention have decided that they will go on hunger strike in April if Israel does not stop holding them without granting them basic rights,” Akram al-Ayasa, a spokesman for the PLO Prisoners Commission said in a phone call.
Last April and May, hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel participated in a 40-day hunger strike that dominated headlines in Israeli and Palestinian media.
Ayasa said the Palestinians held under the policy will launch a hunger strike in stages if Israel does not accept their demand.
“One group of administrative detainees would go on hunger strike and then other groups would subsequently join them, if Israel does not end its policy of administrative detention,” he said.
Israel holds that administrative detention prevents violence in cases where intelligence services believe suspects are planning an attack, but lack sufficient evidence to prosecute them.
Israel also maintains that the policy protects the identities of secret informants who would otherwise be at risk of being exposed in standard trials.
Ayasa, who was held for several years in administrative detention, said Israel has used the procedure to excess, holding many individuals who do not pose a threat to the public.
“They have exploited the policy to hold people who merely oppose the occupation and want to protest it,” he said.
Assaf Librati, a spokesman for the Israel Prison Service, declined to comment.
Ayasa said there are some 500 Palestinians being held in administrative detention by Israel, including three minors.
Reuters contributed to this report.