THE Israeli Supreme Court was scheduled to hold a hearing on Sunday to discuss the case of two hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners Anas Shadid, 20, and Ahmad Abu Farah, 29, who have been on hunger strike for 80 and 79 days respectively.
Chairman of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) Qaddura Faris said that he believed the court would ‘likely’ decide the two should be moved to a Palestinian hospital for treatment.
Faris criticised what he said was the Israeli government’s ‘obvious’ avoidance of making a decision on the two, who have been refusing all forms of nutrition except water, in protest at being placed under administrative detention – an Israeli policy of internment without charge or trial based on undisclosed evidence.
He added that he would make an effort to reach a settlement with Israeli officials to release the two immediately after they complete their current detention period. ‘In light of their deteriorating health conditions, the Israeli court has no choice but to decide to send them to another hospital which is likely to be a Palestinian hospital.’
An Israeli court suspended the prisoners’ detention orders on Nov. 18 due to the deteriorating health of the hunger strikers, according to Palestinian prisoner solidarity network Samidoun. Shadid and Abu Farah, both residents of the southern occupied West Bank village of Dura, were reported to be in ‘critical condition’ last week, but have expressed their commitment to continue with their hunger strikes until their administrative detentions are lifted completely and they could be moved to a Palestinian hospital.
Faris added that a third hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner, Ammar Ibrahim Hamour, 28, has been under constant pressure from the Israel Prison Service (IPS) to end hunger strike, which he began on Nov. 21. Over the past 20 days, he has continued to reject food and vitamins, only consuming water during his hunger strike, and has begun to suffer from stomach pains and a sleeping disorder, according to a Friday statement from PPS.
According to the statement, Hamour has been held in solitary confinement in Israel’s Ashkelon detention centre after being transferred from Israel’s Ktziot prison a few days prior, and informed his lawyer that he was being kept in ‘very bad conditions,’ while IPS officials have taunted the hunger striker with meals.
Meanwhile, Head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe said in a statement that Israeli authorities have ‘deliberately’ attempted to kill Palestinian hunger strikers by allowing their health to deteriorate, while forcing them into ‘difficult circumstances.’
Qaraqe called Israel’s ‘slow killing of Palestinian hunger strikers’ a ‘crime,’ and urged the international community to intervene, adding that Israel’s treatment of Palestinian hunger strikers represented a ‘humanitarian crisis’ and that Israel was fully responsible for the conditions of Palestinians in Israeli prisons that have forced scores to go on hunger strike.
Rights groups have claimed that Israel’s administrative detention policy has been used as an attempt to disrupt Palestinian political and social processes, notably targeting Palestinian politicians, activists, and journalists. The European Union Representative, the EU Heads of Mission and the Heads of Mission of Switzerland and Norway in Jerusalem and Ramallah issued a statement last Thursday condemning the policy, highlighting their concern over the deteriorating medical conditions of Shadid and Abu Farah.
‘The EU, Switzerland and Norway call for the full respect of international human rights obligations towards all prisoners. Detainees have the right to be informed about the charges underlying any detention, must be granted access to legal assistance, and be subject to a fair trial,’ the statement said. According to Addameer, 7,000 Palestinians were being held in Israeli prisons as of October, 720 of whom were being held in administrative detention.
• The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the most popular political faction in Palestine for secular leftists, marked the 49th anniversary of its founding on Sunday, holding events over the weekend in the occupied territory and abroad. According to the official PFLP website, a festival was held on Saturday in Khan Yunis in the southern besieged Gaza Strip, where member of the PFLP political bureau Kayed al-Ghoul delivered a speech honouring ‘nearly a half-century of strugglers and martyrs struggling for liberation and (the Palestinian right to) return.’
He denounced the ‘Zionist’ and ‘colonial’ Israeli occupation, ‘reactionary Arab regimes,’ as well as ‘global imperialism – particularly US imperialism.’ Al-Ghoul also reiterated PFLP’s opposition to the French-led effort to hold a multilateral peace conference in Paris before the end of the year, calling it ‘an attempt to replace the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people and international law and UN resolutions with yet another negotiations framework.’
He warned against the acceleration of Israel’s illegal settlement expansion project that also parallels ‘the growing role of the extreme right internationally,’ ongoing ‘Judaisation’ in occupied East Jerusalem, as well as ‘the continuous extrajudicial execution of Palestinians’ by Israeli forces.
The Progressive Student Labour Front (PSFL), a student organisation linked to the PFLP, also organised a rally at the campus of Al-Quds Open University in Gaza City, where PSFL representative Ammar Qasqin ‘emphasised the importance of student organising and universities as a space for the Palestinian people to struggle and express their identity and culture.’
At Al-Azhar University in the Gaza Strip, the PSFL also held a festival, according to the PFLP statement, where PSFL member Abdel-Rahman Abu Merei honoured PFLP political prisoners held by Israel, and denounced the inaccessibility of education to Palestinians living in poverty due to high tuition fees.
Meanwhile in Beirut, Lebanon, PFLP supporters and members of various Palestinian and Lebanese political factions gathered last Friday to ‘lay wreaths on the tombs of the martyrs of the Palestinian revolution,’ according to the PFLP statement.
The PFLP also announced on Sunday a new digital archive of ‘historical documents and legacy of struggle,’ as part of the commemoration of the 49th anniversary of the founding of the PFLP.
The PFLP marks the anniversary of its creation every year on Dec. 11, commemorating the group’s creation led by George Habash in 1967, following the Six Day War. The left-wing group gained a stronghold in the 1970s as the second largest party in the PLO, but lost much of its political influence following the First Intifada and the signing of the Oslo Accords. The group became well known for its aircraft hijackings in the 1960s and 70s.
Its military wing, the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, has played an active role in armed conflicts with Israeli forces, most recently in Israel’s 50-day offensive on Gaza in the summer of 2014. The PFLP is considered a terrorist organisation by the United States, Canada, the European Union and Israel, despite its mainstream popularity as a resistance movement among Palestinians.