Israel Prison Service: Palestinian Hunger Striker Cuffed to Hospital Bed to Prevent Kidnapping

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Bilal Kayed, of the West Bank town of Asira al-Shamaliya, was arrested in 2002 at the height of the second intifada.
Bilal Kayed, of the West Bank town of Asira al-Shamaliya, was arrested in 2002 at the height of the second intifada.Credit: Courtesy

The lawyers for a hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner have asked a court that he no longer be handcuffed to his bed and be allowed to be treated by a doctor of his choosing.

Bilal Kayed, 36, is still being held after completing a 14-year sentence for offenses during the second intifada. He is now at Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center because of his hunger strike – now more than 50 days long – that began when he was not released as expected earlier this summer.

On Thursday, the Be’er Sheva District Court heard a petition submitted by Kayed’s lawyers, who are representing him on behalf of Physicians for Human Rights.

The prison service said Kayed is handcuffed to his bed in part to prevent an attempt to free him. Kayed belongs to the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and is considered a leader of PFLP prisoners in Israel.

Also Thursday, the prison service evacuated wings housing Palestinian prisoners affiliated with Hamas, citing signs of a possible conspiracy. In response, more than 250 Palestinian prisoners launched a hunger strike.

But Kayed’s lawyers said their client was not dangerous, especially because he was being watched by three prison guards at Barzilai.

Prison service lawyers showed the court classified material on Kayed’s senior rank in the PFLP. They also submitted the conclusions of an inquiry into the escape of a hired killer in an organized-crime case, Yaron Sankar, who escaped from Assaf Harofeh Hospital in Tzrifin last November while on a hunger strike. As a result, regulations have been tightened, the prison service said.

Kayed’s lawyers said Sankar’s case was very different because the guards had fallen asleep. At the Be’er Sheva court, Judge Aharon Mishnayot is expected to issue a ruling next week.

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