Israeli Court Rejects Hunger Striker's Appeal to Uncuff Him From Hospital Bed

Set to be released after sitting in jail for 14 years, Bilal Kayed was issued with an administrative detention order.

Bilal Kayed, of the West Bank town of Asira al-Shamaliya, was arrested in 2002 at the height of the second intifada.
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An Israeli court rejected on Thursday an appeal by Palestinian administrative detainee Bilal Kayed, who has been on a hunger strike for the past two months, and determined that he will remain cuffed to his hospital bed.

The court also rejected Kayed appeal to be examined by an independent doctor of his choosing. Kayed was placed under administrative detention immediately upon being released from Israeli jail after completing a prison sentence of 14 years, leading him to begin his hunger strike.

Be'er Sheva District Court Judge Aharon Mishnayot accepted the Prison Service's position that Kayed is cuffed to his bed at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon for fear that he will escape or be abducted.

"I was convinced that the appellant's dangerousness, as well as the fact the he is hospitalized at a civilian hospital together with other patients without any of the security perimeters that exist in prisons, justify taking strict security measures, including certain cuffing," the judge wrote. "Upon finding that the appellant's appeal was made on a detailed and well-reasoned decision and while taking into account as much as possible the appellant's dignity and the medical treatment that he is receiving, I didn’t see room for court involvement in this case."

As for Kayed's appeal to be examined by a doctor of his choosing in addition to the hospital's doctor, the judge ruled that the care provided by the team at the hospital, alongside frequent visits from Red Cross teams, are sufficient. "It's difficult to let go of the impression that the basis of the appeal is not sincere concern for the appellant's health, but an ulterior motive that isn’t deserving of the court's aid," he wrote.

The Physicians for Human Rights organization that represented Kayed in his appeal said that it would appeal the decision to the High Court of Justice.

"In every hunger strike, we see how the state, with all of its systems, eats away more and more at the basic rights of the hunger strikers, who are administrative detainees who sometimes don’t even know what they were detained for," said attorney Ola Shtiwi of Physicians for Human Rights. "In the last ruling, which is precedential and dangerous, Judge Mishnayot rules in contradiction to existing legislation and rulings, and is preventing the detainee from receiving expert medical consultation, consultation that previous hunger strikers received and which is the right given to any patient under the patient's rights law."

Regarding the decision to keep Kayed cuffed to the bed, his attorney said that the Prison Service's claims of him escaping are false, considering his medical condition and the presence of three guards and other security measures.

"The absurd claims for cuffing reveal the simple truth that the Prison Service's aim in cuffing Bilal is to break the spirit of the hunger striker. The court, unfortunately, seems to have chosen to cooperate with turning medicine into a tool in this game." 

Kayed, 35, from the village of Asira al-Shamaliya north of Nablus, was arrested in 2002, during the Second Intifada, for his membership in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. He was sentenced to 14-and-a-half years in prison for a string of security offenses, including terror attacks and attempted attacks. Hours before he was set to be released, he was issued with an administrative detention order for six months based on confidential material.