A Palestinian hunger striker in Israel’s Ramleh prison was knocked unconscious by prison guards earlier this week in the most recent abuse of prisoners, a coalition of human rights groups said on Thursday.
Hassan Safadi, who has gone 57 days without food, had his head slammed against the steel door of his prison cell during an assault on him and another hunger striker, Samer al-Barq.
The assault occurred after they refused to be transferred to a new cell, Addameer, al-Haq and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel said in a joint statement.
“During the attack, Mr Safadi’s head was slammed against the iron door of the cell two times, causing him to fall to the ground, unconscious. Prison guards then dragged him through the hall to be seen by all the other prisoners,” it said.
Safadi announced after the beating that he would no longer be drinking water.
The two prisoners are refusing food to protest their detention without trial under a system Israel calls administrative detention.
Over 2,000 Palestinian prisoners ended a mass hunger strike in May after reaching a deal with Israel.
The deal specifically stipulated that Safadi would be released following the expiration of his detention order, but the agreement was not upheld.
Two other Palestinian prisoners, Ayman Sharawna and Samer al-Issawi, have also been refusing food for 47 and 16 days, respectively.
Israel’s draconian administrative detention allows for the imprisonment of Palestinians without charge or trial for renewable six month periods.
- Detained Palestinian hunger strikers beaten: NGOs (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Human rights groups in Israel released a statement on Wednesday condemning the “outrageous mistreatment” of hunger striking Palestinian prisoners by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS), including physical beatings.
“We are outraged by the mistreatment and violent attacks on Palestinian prisoners in general, and especially in the cases of these fragile hunger strikers,” said a joint press release from Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Al-Haq and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-IL).
“We urge the international community to intervene with Israel on behalf of these detainees before their conditions deteriorate even further.”
Doctors and lawyers from the groups who visited the prisoners in Ramleh prison medical center expressed particular concern for the lives two administrative detainees, Samer al-Barq and Hassan Safadi, who have been subject to consistent mistreatment by the IPS.
“There is reason to believe that in the future the health of the two strikers will deteriorate, and therefore their condition requires special attention and close monitoring,” said a doctor from PHR-IL following his visit to the prisoners.
The two detainees are now refusing vitamins and minerals in protest at “humiliating and violent treatment by IPS staff.” He called for the patients to be examined once a week by an impartial doctor without the need for a court order.
PHR-IL doctors also reported that the tiny 1.5 by 1.8 meter cell shared by the two prisoners has no space for the wheelchairs they require for every day activities such as going to the toilet and the shower.
According to the groups, Barq, who is currently on his 78th day of a renewed hunger strike, having already completed a 30-day hunger strike, was violently beaten during his transfer from Ramleh to Ofer military court on July 31.
IPS special forces are renowned for their particularly brutal treatment of prisoners during transfers.
Safadi, who is now on his 48th day of renewed hunger strike, following his previous 71-day hunger strike, recounted similar stories of abuse by IPS staff who regularly carry out violent searches of their cell.
In one such raid they insulted and beat him all over his body leaving him with an injured leg.
In June, Israel broke a deal reached with the Palestinian prisoners’ committee that ended a mass hunger strike by renewing the detention of Hassan Safadi for another six months.
Safadi has been held since 29 June 2011 and the renewal of his detention was a violation of the agreement between the prisoners’ hunger strike committee and Israeli officials.
The mass hunger strike of over 2,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails earlier this year was a protest against Israel’s draconian administrative detention policy, as well as harsh conditions imposed on them during imprisonment.
The strike aimed to put pressure on Israel to drop administrative detention, but the Jewish state has resisted calls to change the policy.
The law dates back to the British mandate era of historic Palestine and allows Israel to detain Palestinians without charge for renewable six month periods.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have previously condemned the policy as a violation of international humanitarian law.
Two other Palestinian political prisoners are also currently on hunger strike: Ayman Sharawna and Samer Al-Issawi, on 38 and 7 days respectively. Both were released in last October’s prisoner exchange deal and subsequently rearrested.
Israel has been accused by activists of implementing apartheid policies towards indigenous Palestinians.
- #PalHunger | Doctor and lawyer visits to hunger strikers reveal mistreatment by Israeli Prison Service (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
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- Outrage as Israel breaks prisoner agreement (altahrir.wordpress.com)
Israel’s Supreme Court has turned down an appeal requesting the release of two Palestinian prisoners, who have been on hunger strike for more than two months.
According to their lawyer, judges on Monday ruled that their hunger strike was not a reason to release them from administrative detention despite their being in life-threatening condition.
Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahla began refusing food on February 29 in protest to their administrative detention, a controversial practice used by Tel Aviv, which allows Israeli authorities to hold people, mostly Palestinians, without charge or trial indefinitely.
Diab has been in custody for nine months while Halahla has been detained since June 2010.
“I believe what the court is doing here is trying to break the will of both prisoners so they will back down in their hunger strike,” said their lawyer Jamil Khatib, adding that the two men, however, intend to “continue their strike to the end.”
“Israeli courts do not handle administrative detention in a positive way. It shows that the intelligence services have the final word,” he added.
The Israeli group Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) has condemned the court’s decision, describing it as “a death sentence” for both men.
An estimated 1,600 to 2,000 Palestinian prisoners, who began an open-ended hunger strike on April 17 to protest against Israel’s administrative detention rules, the use of solitary confinement, maltreatment of sick detainees, and difficulty in securing family visits and strip searches that are imposed on visitors.
According to an April 1, 2012 report published by the non-governmental Palestinian prisoner support and human rights association, Addameer, at least 4,610 “political” Palestinian prisoners are held in Israeli jails.
Addameer figures show 322 of the Palestinian prisoners are administrative detainees.
- 1,600 Palestinian prisoners begin open-ended hunger strike in Israeli jails (alethonews.wordpress.com)
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RAMALLAH — The administration of the Israeli Megiddo prison has blocked visits by lawyers to their clients in the jail as a punishment for going on hunger strike.
Human rights sources said that the administration cited trivial pretexts such as that detained hunger strikers were very weak and could not walk to the visitation room.
They said that lawyer Fawzi Shalloudi demanded a written explanation for preventing him from seeing the hunger strikers since Israeli law does not ban those prisoners from meeting their lawyers.
He said that the officer in-charge in the jail said that Shalloudi could not see the two prisoners, who are on hunger strike, because they could not walk, and added that he would not ask them whether they would like to see the lawyer because, as he said, “I am not a postman”.
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Palestinian protesters hold posters of Hana Shalabi in 2011. (file photo)
Female Palestinian prisoner Hana Shalabi, who has been on a hunger strike since February 16, has been hospitalized.
“Hana Shalabi was transferred this evening to Israel’s Meir hospital after her state of health deteriorated,” Palestinian Prisoner Affairs Minister Issa Qaraqaa said on Monday.
An independent doctor from Physicians for Human Rights-Israel who examined Shalabi said her life was at risk. The doctor described a weakening of her muscles, weight loss of 14 kilograms, and a very weak pulse.
She has been on a hunger strike since her arrest in the northern West Bank on February 16. She was originally ordered to be detained without trial for six months.
Although Shalabi was among more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners released in October 2011 in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, she was later re-arrested and sent back to prison.
- Shalabi supporters join hunger strike, boycott courts (altahrir.wordpress.com)
- Hana Shalabi to continue hunger strike despite sentence reduction (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Lawyer: Hana Shalabi’s health is deteriorating (altahrir.wordpress.com)
- Hana al-Shalabi on hunger strike against renewed administrative detention (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Free Hanaa Shalabi, End Administrative Detention (alethonews.wordpress.com)