Imprisoned Balboul brothers launch hunger strike, join teen Sharawna and struggler Kayed refusing food

Palestinian prisoners, brothers Mohammed and Mahmoud al-Balboul have been on hunger strike in Israeli prison since 4 July in protest of their administrative detention without charge or trial, reported their family.

They join Bilal Kayed, fellow administrative detainee on hunger strike for freedom after he was ordered to detention without charge or trial following the completion of his 14.5-year sentence in Israeli prison, and 17-year-old Jalal Sharawna in rejecting food in protest of their imprisonment.

Mohammed, 25, a dentist, and Mahmoud, 21, a university student, have been imprisoned since 9 June, ordered to administrative detention without charge or trial on the basis of secret evidence. Mohammed was ordered to six months imprisonment and Mahmoud to five months. Their younger sister, Nuran, 15, is also imprisoned in Israeli HaSharon prison, since 12 April. She is serving a four month sentence after having a verbal altercation with an Israeli occupation soldier at a checkpoint; she was then accused of carrying a knife with her inside her bag.

The three are the children of Sanaa al-Balboul and her husband Ahmad, who was assassinated by undercover Israeli occupation forces on 18 March 2008; he was accused of being a leader of the Fateh movement’s military wing, the Al-Aqsa Brigades, in Bethlehem. Sanaa has been denied permission to visit Nuran in prison and has seen her only once since her arrest, at a military court hearing where she was sentenced. Sanaa – at home alone, her three children imprisoned and her husband assassinated – has become an outspoken advocate for her children’s freedom.

Mohammed and Mahmoud were arrested in a late-night raid on their home where they live with their mother, the door exploded by Israeli occupation soldiers who stormed the home with dogs. Mohammed was held in administrative detention once before, at the age of 17, imprisoned for a year without charge or trial. After his release, he spent six years studying dentistry in Egypt before returning to open his practice, Al Jazeera reported.

Jalal Sharawna, 17, has continued his open hunger strike for the seventh day in protest of his conditions of confinement and the denial of family visits in Ramle prison clinic. Sharawna was arrested on 10 October 2014 after he was shot in the leg with live fire by Israeli occupation forces invading his village of Dura, near Al-Khalil.

After being imprisoned for several weeks and several surgeries, Jalal’s leg was amputed by Israeli surgeons in Assaf Harofeh hospital in early November. Neither his parents nor his lawyer were consulted about the decision to amputate his leg, and all have accused the Israeli prison administration of medical neglect and responsibility for the loss of Jalal’s leg, in addition to the responsibility of the Israeli occupation soldiers for shooting the boy with live bullets.

Jalal’s father, Shaher Sharawna, spoke to Asra Voice radio, saying that his son saw no alternative but hunger strike to address the unacceptable circumstances of his confinement, noting that he has been prohibited family visits as well. He also noted the impact of the arrest and injury on the education of the 17-year-old boy, who should be soon graduating from high school and is instead imprisoned and severely injured.

Bilal Kayed, 35, is on his 21st day of hunger strike against his imprisonment without charge or trial. After completing his 14.5 year sentence in Israeli prisons, instead of being released, he was ordered to six months in administrative detention without charge or trial – an order confirmed yesterday, 5 July, by the Ofer Military Court.

Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners are taking part in solidarity actions with Kayed, a prominent leader within the prisons of the prisoners’ movement. His case is seen as threatening a dangerous precedent of indefinite imprisonment of Palestinians following the expiration of lengthy sentences.

Kayed’s comrades in the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine will announce their next steps of protest on 8 July, said Allam Kaabi.  They are consulting with prisoners in all Palestinian factions inside Israeli jails to discuss the next steps of protest, leading to a collective open hunger strike, demanding Kayed’s release. Kayed is refusing any nutrition, vitamins, or salt supplements and consuming only water.

Protests are taking place throughout Palestine and internationally in solidarity with Kayed. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network is urging participation in a week of action for freedom for Kayed, from 8-15 July 2016.