Hassan Shokeh launches hunger strike against administrative detention as mass court boycott continues

Hassan Shokeh Photo: Asra Media

Palestinian prisoner Hassan Hassanein Shokeh, 29, launched a hunger strike eight days ago to demand his freedom after he was ordered to administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial, after completing his six-month prison sentence. Shokeh, who has spent over 13 years in Israeli prisons over multiple arrests, many times in administrative detention, previously conducted a hunger strike in October 2017 to demand his freedom.

Shokeh launched his strike on 5 June. He has been imprisoned since 29 September 2017, when he was seized from his home in al-Ram. He was arrested less than one month after he was released, on 31 August 2017, from his previous period of detention without charge or trial. He was initially ordered imprisoned without charge or trial under administrative detention, and he launched a hunger strike in October 2017 to demand his release. After a 35-day strike, he suspended his protest after he was told he would be charged and his case moved to the military courts.

The Ofer military court sentenced him to six months in prison and he was scheduled for release on 3 June. However, instead of being released, he was again ordered imprisoned without charge or trial under administrative detention, sparking the renewal of his strike.

Throughout his imprisonment, he has been denied family visits as his family members have been denied permits under “security” pretexts; only his 10-year-old sister has been allowed to visit him. On 9 June, he was transferred to Hadarim prison from Ofer prison.

The Israeli occupation prison administration frequently uses transfer and isolation against Palestinian prisoners who launch hunger strikes. The transfer process is physically arduous and damaging and often requires the striking prisoners to stand, shackled, for lengthy periods waiting for transportation or to sit in an un-air-conditioned vehicle on metal benches, shackled to the seats. The use of frequent abusive transfers is a mechanism of physical abuse and mistreatment of Palestinian prisoners in retaliation for launching hunger strikes or involvement in the prisoners’ movement.

Shokeh’s strike comes as Palestinian administrative detainees have been carrying out a boycott of Israeli military courts for over 100 days. They are refusing to participate in the system that is used to give a faint veneer of a “legal process” to an extralegal process of imprisonment without charge and without trial at the behest of the Israeli occupation military.

There are approximately 500 Palestinian prisoners held without charge or trial under administrative detention, out of nearly 6,500 total Palestinian prisoners. Administrative detention orders are indefinitely renewable, and Palestinian prisoners have spent years at a time jailed through repeatedly renewed detention orders, all on the basis of a so-called “secret file” to which both the detainees and their lawyers are denied access.

Ayman al-Tabeesh

The strike also comes as fellow administrative detainee Ayman al-Tabeesh, 37, once again had his isolation extended. He was transferred from Ofer prison to Ohli Kedar prison on 28 November 2017 with no reason given and moved into isolation. He was then transferred into isolation in Ramon prison. Al-Tabeesh, imprisoned previously for membership in the Islamic Jihad movement and then held on multiple occasions without charge or trial under administrative detention, has been imprisoned since 2 August 2016. He has previously conducted long-term hunger strikes, including one for 105 days, against his imprisonment without charge or trial; he has previously won release from his imprisonment through hunger strikes.