Israel: We will not release Abdullah Barghouthi even if strike will kill him

abdullahbMa’an reported that Israeli officials said Saturday that they would not release hunger-striking prisoner Abdullah Barghouthi, even if his strike action threatens to kill him, a prisoners group said.

Click here to take action to support Abdullah Barghouthi and his fellow hunger striking prisoners.

A lawyer from the Al-Tadamon human rights groups said he was informed by a Palestinian prisoner that a two-hour meeting was recently held between Israeli prison authorities and prisoners’ representatives, with Israeli officials stressing that prisoners with life sentences would not be released.

“I saw him breathing very heavily and he began to have fainting spells,” Hanan al-Khatib, a Palestinian lawyer, said Friday, July 19 after visiting him in Afula Hospital. Khatib said that Barghouthi’s hands continue to be swollen and he is unable to receive injections or intravenous glucose.

Barghouthi is shackled to his bed by both his hands and feet, al-Khatib said, and has not been allowed visits from family members or International Committee of the Red Cross representatives. He is also prohibited from reading newspapers, Khatib reported.

He has been on hunger strike since May 2 along with 4 other Palestinian prisoners who carry Jordanian nationality, Mohammad Rimawi, Muneer Mar’i, Alaa Hammad and Hamza Othman al-Dabbas; all five are demanding to serve the remainder of their sentence in a Jordanian jail, under the Wadi Araba agreement between Jordan and Israel.

The strikers are also demanding that Israel disclose the whereabouts of 20 missing Jordanian prisoners and want Israel to remove the bodies of Palestinians who died in Israeli custody from nameless graves.

Barghouthi is serving 67 life terms, the highest sentence ever handed down by an Israeli military court. He has been detained since March 2003.

Hanan Al-Khatib also reported on July 18 that when she went to Ramle prison clinic to meet with 7 prisoners on hunger strike, she was told that there were new orders that lawyers may not visit with prisoners on hunger strike except by special permission of the director of prisons in the region. Khatib said that these measures are dangerous, arbitrary and attempt to pressure the strikign prisoners to end the strike.

hareebat-atabeeshAl-Khatib was also prohibited from visiting Imad Batran and Ayman Hamdan, who have been on hunger strike since May 7 and April 28, respectively. Both are held in the Assaf Soroka Hospital. The 7 hunger striking prisoners in Ramle are Ayman al-Tabeesh, Adel Hareebat, Hossam Matar, Alaa Hammad, Mohammad Rimawi, Hamza Othman al-Dabbas and Muneer Mar’i.

Palestinian prisoners Ayman Al-Tabeesh, 33, and Adel Hareebat, 39, said on July 20, that they are on their 59th day of open hunger strike, in rejection of the policy of administrative detention without charge or trial.

Hareebat said that the management of Ramle prison clinic sent him to Assaf Soroka hospital for tests due to the deterioration of his health, but he declined medical tests if there is no response to his demand for freedom. He was returned to Ramle and has been informed that he has pancreas and liver problems and now needs surgery for his pancreas.

Al-Tabeesh and Hareebat said that their morale is high despite the deteriorating health conditions and the constant pressures of prison guards and intelligence agents.

Al-Tabeesh said that Ramle prison refuses to place him with his brother Mohammed, who is now on his 38th day of hunger strike in solidarity with Ayman.

They called for urgent action and support from international and Palestinian organizations for their freedom.

Click here to take action to support Abdullah Barghouthi and his fellow hunger striking prisoners.