As imprisoned Palestinian hunger striker Bilal Kayed enters his 60th day of hunger strike, an Israeli court in Beersheba rejected a petition to release him from the shackles on his wrist and ankle and denied him access to an independent physician.
Kayed, held in Barzilai Hospital, is shackled hand and foot to his hospital bed. After 60 days without food, he is weak, suffering serious pain throughout his body, with yellowing skin. He is surrounded by at least three prison guards at all times. Physicians for Human Rights, with Kayed’s lawyers, had submitted a petition seeking Kayed’s unshackling. The Israeli state responded by saying that Kayed was being shackled to prevent a “kidnapping attempt” or an “escape,” despite his urgent health condition. The Beersheba court refused to order Kayed’s unshackling or allow him to see an independent doctor; Kayed’s lawyers indicated they would appeal the decision.
This ruling came one day after the Israeli high court set a hearing date in Kayed’s case for 5 October, nearly two months from today, despite his hunger strike, severe health condition, and the fact that he has been held under administrative detention since 13 June.
Amnesty International issued a statement on Kayed’s case on 12 August as well, noting that “The Israeli authorities’ use of administrative detention to continue to hold a person who has completed a long custodial sentence appears particularly cruel. The Israeli authorities must release Kayed, or, if they have evidence that he has committed a crime, then he should be promptly charged with a recognizable criminal offence and tried in proceedings which comply with international law and standards on fair trial. ”
Kayed, 34, has been on hunger strike since 15 June when he was ordered to administrative detention without charge or trial for a six-month indefinitely-renewable term immediately after the completion of his 14.5-year sentence in Israeli prison. He has been imprisoned since 2001 for participation in the second Intifada and involvement in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Instead of releasing him as scheduled, Kayed was ordered to indefinite detention. His case is a dangerous precedent that threatens all Palestinian prisoners with continued detention after the expiration of their sentences.
Nearly 100 Palestinian prisoners have joined Kayed on hunger strike and hundreds more in protests throughout the prison system supporting his strike and demanding his release. Over 150 international organizations have signed on to a global call to free Kayed and protests are taking place throughout Palestine and internationally for Kayed’s release.
In New York City on Friday 12 August, marchers protested through the lobby of a G4S building and Grand Central Station, demanding freedom for Kayed and that the security corporation get out of occupied Palestine, where it provides control rooms, equipment and security systems for Israeli prisons.
Protests are scheduled for 13 August in Derry, Belfast and Dublin in Ireland, where the Irish anti-colonial hunger strike tradition is honored with solidarity with today’s Palestinian hunger strikers for liberation, as well as a symbolic hunger strike in Berlin. Further forthcoming protests are already planned in Sydney, Vienna, Copenhagen, Manchester and elsewhere, along with a full slate of solidarity actions in Beirut, Lebanon and ongoing protests throughout occupied Palestine.