Shadid and Abu Fara critically ill on 74th day of hunger strike; Balboul brothers to be released Thursday

shadid-abufaraPalestinian hunger strikers Anas Shadid, 19, and Ahmad Abu Fara, 29, are on their 74th day of hunger strike. Both are in a severely critical health condition and have refused to end their strike, emphasizing their commitment to continue until they are freed from administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. Both have refused to consume anything but water since 25 September, when they launched their hunger strike in protest of their imprisonment without charge or trial.

Currently, they are held in the Israeli Assaf Harofeh hospital. Their administrative detention is “suspended” due to their health condition, so they are not chained to their hospital beds; however, as soon as their health improves, they will remain imprisoned. They have rejected this order as an attempt to distract from their struggle for freedom.

Ahlam Haddad, Palestinian lawyer, said that both have lapsed into unconsciousness momentarily on several occasions in the past day. Abu Fara cannot see out of his right eye, while Shadid is suffering from severe chest pain, difficulty breathing, and blurred vision. She also said that the two are being abused by guards in the hospital.

Shadid and Abu Fara are joined on strike by Ammar Hmour, 27, of Jaba village near Jenin, who has been on hunger strike for 17 days against his own imprisonment without charge or trial under administrative detention. Held in isolation in a narrow, unventilated cell in Ashkelon prison, he is experiencing fatigue and an aching body, subject to pressure to end his strike. Detained since 16 February without charge or trial, he launched his strike in protest of the renewal of his detention.

There are over 700 Palestinians currently imprisoned in Israeli jails without charge or trial under administrative detention. Administrative detention orders, issued from one to six months at a time, can be indefinitely renewed on the basis of secret evidence. Some Palestinians have been jailed for years at a time under administrative detention.

Also on hunger strike is Kifah Hattab, 52, jailed since 2003. Imprisoned since 2003, he has been on hunger strike for 15 days demanding recognition as a prisoner of war; he was a captain and a pilot for the Palestinian Authority and is serving two life sentences.

As the four strikers continue their battle for freedom, two former hunger strikers, the brothers Mohammed and Mahmoud al-Balboul, are scheduled for release on Thursday 8 December.  They refused food and nutrition for 79 and 76 days after their arrest in a violent raid on their home on 9 June, ending in an agreement that secured their release on 8 December. They are the sons of Ahmad al-Balboul, a Fateh leader assassinated by the Israeli occupation in 2008 and the brothers of Nuran al-Balboul, who was imprisoned for four months at the time of their arrest.  They will be welcomed with a special celebration in Bethlehem’s Manger Square.