According to information collected by the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights from detainees’ families, and initial information from the Ad-Dameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association and the Palestinian Prisoners Association, there are currently eight Palestinian prisoners on open-ended hunger strike, who have been identified as follows.
- Mahmoud Kamel Mohammed As-Sersik, 25, from the Ash-Shaboura neighborhood in Rafah, was arrested by the IOF on 22 July 2009 while on his way to join the Balatta Youth Sports Club. As-Sersik is a member of the Palestinian national soccer team. On 23 August 2009, the IOF extended his detention under Israel’s Unlawful Combatant Law. No evidence was provided in justification of his detention, and the term of detention was not specified. He has been on hunger strike for 21 consecutive days in protest against the continuation of his detention without charge or trial. On 8 April 2012, he was transferred from Negev prison to solitary confinement in Eshel prison in Beer Sheva.
- Thaer ‘Aziz Mahmoud Halahla, 33, from Kharas village in Hebron district in the West Bank, was arrested in his home on 27 June 2010. On 5 March 2012, his term of administrative detention was extended for six months. He has now been on hunger strike for 44 consecutive days in protest against his detention without trial. On 28 March 2012, he was referred to the Ar-Ramla prison hospital due to the deterioration of his health.
- Belal Nabil Sa’eed Diyab, 27, from Kafer Ra’i village in Jenin district in the West Bank, was arrested on 17 August 2011. On 14 February 2012, his term of administrative detention was extended for six months. He has now been on hunger strike for 45 consecutive days in protest against his detention without trial. On 28 March 2012, he was referred to the Ar-Ramla prison hospital due to his deteriorating state of health.
- Ja’far Ibrahim Mohammed Eiz Ad-Din, 41, from ‘Arraba village in Jenin, was arrested by the IOF on 21 March 2012. On the same day, he was placed under an order of administrative detention for a term of six months. He is now on hunger strike for the 22nd consecutive day in protest against his detention without charge. On 28 March 2012, he was transferred from Megiddo prison to solitary confinement in Al Jalama prison. His family reports that they have received information that he has since been transferred to Ar-Ramla prison hospital.
- Ahmed Nabhan Da’san Saqer, 48, from ‘Asskar refugee camp in Nablus, was arrested on 20 November 2008. On 24 January 2012, his term of administrative detention was again extended for a period of four months. He is now on hunger strike for the 31st consecutive day in protest against his detention without charge. He is being held in Shata prison.
- Mohammed Rafeq Kamel At-Taj, 40, from Toubas in Nablus district, was arrested in his home on 19 November 2003. He was sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment. He has now been on hunger strike for 29 consecutive days.
- Hasan Zahi As-Safadi, 34, from Ein Al Maa’ refugee camp in Nablus, was detained on 29 June 2011. On 29 January 2012, his term of administrative detention was extended for another four months. He is now on hunger strike for the 39th consecutive day. On 6 April 2012, he was referred to the prison hospital in Ar-Ramla due to the deterioration of his health.
- Omar Mousa Mesleh Shalaeil, 45, from Nablus, was detained on 15 August 2011 while he was on his way to perform the ‘Umrah, a pilgrimage to Mecca. On 15 February 2012, his administrative detention was extended for another six months. He is now on hunger strike for the 41st consecutive day. On 4 April 2012, he was referred to the prison hospital in Ar-Ramla due to his deteriorating state of health.
Al Mezan Centre reports:
It is worth noting that Israel began issuing administrative detention orders in 1967, as part of its policy of restraint and collective punishment policy against residents of the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). Israeli authorities and courts continue to arrest and detain Palestinians under the Emergency Law of 1945, which was in force during the British Mandate over Palestine. This law allows Israeli authorities to detain Palestinians without bringing them to trial, or even providing reasons for their detention, and to repeatedly extend terms of detention by default procedures. The Israeli authorities have also ratified the Unlawful Combatant Law of 2000, which allows the IOF to detain Palestinians without charge or disclosure of the term of detention. The number of Palestinian administrative detainees has increased over the past year. According to the Palestinian Prisoners Association, the number of administrative detainees rose from 219 in January 2011 to 320 at the end of February 2012.
Administrative detention amounts to arbitrary detention in violation of the law when the detainee is not presented with the reason for his detention, made subject to criminal charges, or informed when he will be released. Administrative detainees are brought before an Israeli military judge who can approve terms of imprisonment relying on secret evidence presented by the military prosecutor. Neither the detainee nor his lawyer is given access to the evidence used. Though a sentence of administrative detention is limited to a term of six months, the detention can be extended for an indefinite number of terms. This means that Palestinians can be jailed for many years merely because the IOF claims that they are dangerous to Israeli security, without any evidence sufficient to demonstrate this before a regularly constituted court.
The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights pays tribute to Palestinian prisoners’ struggle against injustice and the violation of their human rights, and for the attainment of freedom and dignity. Palestinian prisoners are risking their lives in protest against the IOF’s practice of administrative detention. Al Mezan strongly condemns the continuing practice of administrative detention of Palestinian prisoners, and the cruelty and ill-treatment they suffer in detention. Al Mezan emphasizes that the IOF is systematically violating the most basic of human rights principles, particularly the right of detainees to dignity and to fair trial.
Al Mezan also expresses its concern for the detainees’ health and lives, and holds the international community responsible for their well-being. Al Mezan calls on the international community to intervene, and asserts that the latter’s silence in the face of ongoing Israeli violations of international human rights law has only encouraged Israel to carry out further violations, including ratification of racist laws which contradict the norms of international justice. Al Mezan likewise calls on civil society groups, national and international human rights organizations, political parties, and friendly countries to express their solidarity with Palestinian detainees, to expose Israel’s violations of international humanitarian law, and to oblige Israel to uphold its legal responsibilities. This includes guaranteeing that detainees are not subjected to torture and ill-treatment, provision of health care, and respect of the right to family visitation. Al Mezan also calls for international action to secure the prompt release of women and children detained without trial, as a step towards releasing all Palestinian detainees.