10 Palestinians being held in administrative detention by Israel are on hunger strike to protest their illegal imprisonment and demand their immediate release, multiple news sources reported on Wednesday, August 18. According to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, four of the 10 detainees have been on hunger strike for over a month. The rest have been on open-ended hunger strikes for durations ranging from two to 28 days. The striking detainees have reportedly suffered severe deterioration in their health and are experiencing fatigue, headaches, weight loss and other ill effects .
The 10 detainees on hunger strike were identified as Salem Zeidat, Mujahed Hamed, Kayed Fasfous, Rafat Darwish, Muqdad Qawasmi, Yousef Amer, Ahmad Hamamra, Akram Fasfous, Fadi Ammour and Alaa Al-A’raj.
Four detainees have been on hunger strike for over a month – Zeidat from Bani Naim in Hebron district for 38 days, Hamed from Silwad near Ramallah for 36 days, and Fasfous and Darwish from Dura near Hebron for 35 days. Qawasmi from Hebron has crossed 28 days on hunger strike while Amer from the Jenin refugee camp is on his 21st day of strike. Hamamra, Fasfous, Ammour and Al-A’raj have been on hunger strike for 19, 14, 11 and 2 days, respectively.
Palestinians have been regularly arrested by Israel and imprisoned under the policy of administrative detention, which dates back to the times of the British colonial occupation of Palestine. The policy is used to keep detainees in prison for indefinite periods of time without charge or trial. They are held on the basis of secret evidence which is not disclosed even to their lawyers. The administrative detention orders are often renewed multiple times, with many Palestinians languishing in prison for years if not decades.
Over the years, many Palestinian administrative detainees have launched hunger strikes to force Israel to grant their release. Just this year, over 40 Palestinian detainees have already launched hunger strikes against their administrative detention.
Human rights organizations and the international community have repeatedly urged Israel to end the use of its administrative detention policy, calling it a violation of international law and the detainees’ human rights. Israel has however continued to issue administrative detention orders against Palestinians to crack down on those involved in political and resistance activities against its occupation. Currently, approximately 540 Palestinians being held by Israel under the policy of administrative detention, out of a total of 4,850 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
The number of Palestinian administrative detainees in Israeli prisons has been steadily increasing in proportion to the total number of Palestinians arrested and jailed by Israel. In May this year, 435 Palestinians were being held under administrative detention by Israel. The number saw a significant spike of over a 100 in June in the aftermath of the violence against Palestinians in the Al-Aqsa mosque complex and the devastating Israeli airstrikes on the besieged Gaza strip. As per news reports, in 2020, Israel issued 1,114 administrative detention orders against Palestinians. It is now poised to match or surpass that number in 2021.