Right-wingers Throw Stones at Protesters for Palestinian Hunger Striker

Thirteen are arrested; Bilal Kayed is still being held after completing a 14-year sentence for offenses during the second intifada.

Right-wing extremists outside Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon demonstrating against Palestinian administrative detainee Bilal Kayed. August 11, 2016.
Ilan Assayag

Right-wing extremists threw stones on Tuesday at demonstrators protesting the detention conditions of a Palestinian administrative detainee. Thirteen people were arrested, most of them for throwing stones.

Bilal Kayed has been on hunger strike for nearly 60 days to protest his detention without trial, and due to his worsening condition, he has been hospitalized at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon. The dozens of demonstrators therefore held their protest outside the hospital.

The stone-throwers, who hurled their missiles from within the hospital grounds, caused no casualties. But police arrested eight right-wing activists for disturbing the peace and another two for assaulting policemen, including one who slapped the deputy commander of the Ashkelon police station.

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

Three Arab demonstrators were also arrested for disturbing the peace. The demonstration took place under heavy guard, with some 120 policemen separating the demonstrators on Kayed’s behalf from the right-wing counterdemonstrators.

Three Knesset members also attended the demonstration for Kayed – Talab Abu Arar, Ahmad Tibi and Haneen Zoabi, all from the Arab parties’ Joint List.

Kayed’s mother, Rahiba, also attended the protest and said her son would “never bow his head.”

“All his life he has been fighting,” she added. “And I told him to keep doing so.”

Rahiba asked why the prison service insisted on keeping Kayed cuffed to his hospital bed. “There are policemen around him all the time,” she said. “What are they afraid of?”

The Be’er Sheva District Court is currently considering a petition by Kayed’s lawyers that seeks to have the cuffs removed and secure other improvements in his detention conditions.

“I haven’t seen him in a year,” Rahiba told the demonstrators. “Administrative detention is the greatest injustice imaginable. I very much fear he has suffered irreversible damage; I fear for his future. His legs hurt, his hands; he has kidney and eye problems.”

The hospital said Kayed’s condition was stable and he was being treated with liquids, vitamins and salts.

Kayed was put into administrative detention in June just days before he was due to be released after finishing a 14-year prison sentence for offenses during the second intifada. He responded by immediately launching a hunger strike.

Ninety-nine other Palestinian prisoners are taking turns holding hunger strikes in solidarity with him. According to the prison service, these prisoners are scattered among prisons including Ofer, Megiddo and Gilboa.