Palestinian hunger strikers appeal to Israeli court (REUTERS) By Jihan Abdalla JERSALEM, ISRAEL 05/03/12 11:07am EDT)
Reuters News Service
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(Reuters) - Facing Israel´s highest court in their wheelchairs, two
Palestinian prisoners on the 66th day of their hunger strike appealed
on Thursday for their release from detention without trial.
Thaer Halahla and Bilal Diab, suspected by Israel of security
offences, are among at least 1,550 Palestinian prisoners refusing
food in Israeli jails in a protest against so-called "administrative
Among the prisoners currently on hunger strike, only Halahla, Diab
and two other men have passed the 60-day mark. Ten stopped eating
about 40 days ago while the others began the protest on April 17,
Palestinian officials said.
Halahla, jailed for the past 22 months, told the three-judge Supreme
Court panel hearing the appeal: "Administrative detention is a slow
"I want to live my life with dignity. I have a wife, and a daughter I
never met. I am on hunger strike because there is no other way," he
A spokeswoman for Israel´s Physicians for Human Rights said both
Halahla and Diab, who live in the occupied West Bank, were in a "life-
threatening" condition because of the length of their strike.
Sivan Weizman, a spokeswoman for the Israeli Prisons Authority, said
the men were receiving proper medical care. "We are trying to talk to
them to get them to eat. In the end, it´s their choice," she said.
Halahla and Diab looked gaunt and frail as they were wheeled into
court. Ten minutes into the proceedings, Diab, 27, slumped
unconscious and was removed from the chamber and taken back to an
The court deferred a ruling on the two prisoners´ petitions. Their
lawyer, Jawad Boulos, told Reuters he expected a decision next week,
adding: "We are fighting a losing battle. As long as there is
occupation, there will be detainees in Israeli prisons."
Israeli authorities say some 1,550 prisoners are on hunger strike.
Palestinian sources give varying figures, all over 1,700.
There are more than 4,500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails,
most of them convicted of security-related offences. Some 320 of the
prisoners are held in "administrative detention", a measure imposed
by the Israeli military and which it defends as a means to avoid
exposing confidential sources in court.
Two weeks ago, Israel released hunger striker Khader Adnan, a member
of the militant Islamic Jihad movement, from jail amid concern he
would die. He agreed to end his 66-day-long strike in exchange for a
promise not to renew his detention.
Dubbed by Palestinian activists as "the battle of empty stomachs",
the campaign has included solidarity marches in the West Bank and
Palestinians have demonstrated frequently outside an Israeli military
court in the West Bank, hurling stones at Israeli soldiers who
responded with tear gas, stun grenades and a foul-smelling liquid
sprayed into the crowd.
The strikes have drawn a new wave of international criticism of
"I am appalled by the continuing human rights violations in Israeli
prisons and I urge the government of Israel to respect its
international human rights obligations towards all Palestinian
prisoners," said U.N. official Richard Falk, who monitors human
rights in the Palestinian territories.
Israel declines to deal with Falk or even allow him into the country,
accusing him of being biased. (Editing by Jeffrey Heller) (© Thomson
Reuters 2012. 05/03/12)
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