PALESTINIANS RALLY in Ramallah for Prisoners Day 370.
(photo credit: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters)
GENEVA - The International Committee of the Red Cross called on Israel
on Tuesday to transfer six Palestinians who have been on hunger strike
for weeks to hospital and allow visits from their families.
six are in prison under Israel's long-standing policy of detaining
people it suspects of security offenses or plotting attacks in a closed
military proceeding between security forces and military judges rather
than after a formal trial. Prison terms for "administrative detainees"
are renewable for six months at a time.
In a statement, the
humanitarian agency said that the six are in "imminent danger of dying",
although it upheld their right to choose whether or not they wanted to
"We urge the detaining authorities to transfer
all six detainees without delay to a suitable hospital so that their
condition can be continuously monitored and so that they can receive
specialized medical and nursing care," said Juan Pedro Schaerer, head of
the ICRC delegation in Israel and the Palestinian territories.
six have refused food for between 47 and 71 days, and are among more
than 1,600 detainees who have been on hunger strike for some three
weeks, according to the ICRC.
"Their main demands are for a
resumption of family visits from Gaza and for an end to solitary
confinement in Israeli places of detention," it said.
The fate of
the hunger strikers has been the subject of daily demonstrations in the
West Bank and Gaza Strip in support of the protest.
interview with Reuters on Tuesday Palestinian Authority Prime Minister
Salam Fayyad said there would be serious repercussions if any of the
"The most tragic thing is if you look at the list
of demands they have presented Israel ... they are generally related to
the basic rights of prisoners," he said in the West Bank city of
Ramallah. "There is a clear violation of the Geneva conventions."
The ICRC's Shaerer stressed that the strikers' right to fast is protected by international conventions.
we are in favor of any medical treatment that could benefit the
detainees, we would like to point out that, under resolutions adopted by
the World Medical Association, the detainees are entitled to freely
choose whether to consent to be fed or to receive medical treatment," he
"It is essential that their choice be respected and their human dignity preserved," he said.
Monday, Israel's Supreme Court turned down an appeal by two
Palestinians who have been on hunger strike for the past 70 days, to
free them from detention without trial.
But in its decision the court said security authorities should consider freeing them for medical reasons.
scope of the hunger strike has posed a new challenge to Israel, which
has come under international criticism over detention without trial and
could face a violent Palestinian backlash if any of the protesters die.
The office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay also voiced concern on the strikers' fate.
law is clear: administrative detention should only be used in
exceptional cases and only for imperative reasons of security.
Administrative detainees have the right to challenge the lawfulness of
the detention," spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told a news briefing.
UN investigators and UN rights bodies have raised concerns about
Israel's frequent and extensive use of administrative detention,
including of children, infringing on detainees right to a fair trial,