Two Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails

Rizk Rajoub

As massive marches grow around Palestine, throughout the Arab world and internationally in defense of Jerusalem after US President Trump’s declaration purporting to “recognize” the city as the capital of Israel, there are also two Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails.

Palestinian prisoner Rizk Rajoub, 61, from the village of Dura, al-Khalil, is on his fourth day of hunger strike after he was ordered to administrative detention without charge or trial. Ofer military court offered him the choice of deportation to Sudan or administrative detention, prompting him to launch his strike after he refused deportation and was ordered imprisoned without charge or trial.

Rajoub has faced this battle in the past including ongoing attempts to deport him or pressure him to accept deportation to Sudan through years of imprisonment without charge or trial. A leader of the Hamas movement in al-Khalil, he has spent 23 years in Israeli prisons, and 10 of them have been under administrative detention over various repeated arrests.

At the same time, Salah Khawaja, from the village of Nil’in, is on his 24th day of hunger strike in protest of his administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. Khawaja launched his strike when his detention was renewed one day before he was scheduled for release.

Khawaja was seized by Israeli occupation forces on 23 July 2017 and ordered to four months in administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. These detention orders are indefinitely renewable; Palestinians have spent years at a time jailed under administrative detention orders. Khawaja is one of over 450 Palestinians jailed without charge or trial and a total of nearly 6,200 Palestinian political prisoners. Over the years, he has spent nearly 12 years in Israeli prisons through multiple arrests and detentions.

He is carrying out his hunger strike despite his own deteriorating health. He walks slowly and has lost significant weight, and he suffers from high blood pressure, diabetes and poor vision in his left eye.