Eight administrative prisoners are currently on a hunger strike, four of them hospitalized at the medical wing of Ramle prison, an East Jerusalem-based NGO said Saturday, following attorneys' visits to the prisons. The Prison Service says only seven prisoners are on hunger strike.
The Palestinian prison aid group Addameer reported over the weekend that eight administrative prisoners were on hunger strike in various Israeli prisons. The strikers include Tair Halala of the Hebron area and Balal Diab of the village of Rai near Jenin, who have been hunger-striking for 48 days in demand to be freed; Hassan Safdi of Nablus, who has been on a hunger strike for 41 days; Omer Abu Shlal, who has been striking for 40 days; Ahmed Sakar, the most veteran administrative prisoner, who began his hunger strike 28 days ago and two prisoners from Jenin and Nablus, who have been on hunger strike for 24 days.
The Prison Service said it knows of seven prisoners on hunger strike, four of whom are hospitalized in the Ramle prison medical wing, receiving fluids intravenously.
As far as the length of the strikes, the Prison Service said the longest one has been going on for 27 days.
The hunger strikes have gained momentum among administrative prisoners following the campaigns conducted by two high-profile prisoners in recent months. In December, Islamic Jihad operative Khader Adnan went on a hunger strike to protest Israel's administrative detention policy - a provision allowing the state to hold detainees for an unlimited time without trial or formal charges. Adnan ended the hunger strike in February, after 67 days, having struck a deal with the state to release him at the end of a four-month prison term. He is due to be freed in a few days.
Hana Shalabi, another Islamic Jihad operative, stopped eating after Israeli troops seized her in the West Bank on February 16. She ended her strike after 30 days, and under an agreement with the state was freed and deported to Gaza, where she must stay for three years.
Adnan and Shalabi's campaigns gained international support, and human rights groups in Israel and the world asked Israel to release the two and stop the administrative detention procedure altogether.
The Palestinian Authority has also stepped up activity in support of Palestinian prisoners, with the PA's minister of prisoners' affairs, Issa Karake, calling to form an international panel to probe the issue. Karake, who spoke at a conference of the UN's Human Rights Council in Geneva, also urged the international community to pressure Israel to put an end to the administrative detention policy.
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