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Jamal al-Tawil on hunger strike for 25 days over administrative detention

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Senior Hamas leader Sheikh Jamal al-Tawil

Sheikh Jamal al-Tawil, a senior Hamas leader who has been on an open-ended hunger strike for 25 consecutive days in an Israeli jail, is suffering from headaches and severe dizziness.

Tawil’s wife confirmed that her husband has entered the 25th consecutive day of the hunger strike, adding that he has lost about 13 kilograms, as he only drinks water and refuses to take supplements, the Palestinian Information Center reported on Sunday.

Tawil was arrested on June 2 after Israeli troops stormed his house in the West Bank city of Ramallah. He was taken to Hasharon jail after an Israeli military court ordered his administrative detention for six months.

His daughter, Bushra al-Tawil, was arrested in December last year while she was passing through a military checkpoint. Israeli authorities decided at the time to hold her in administrative detention for 4 months. 

However, in March, Israeli authorities extended her administrative detention order for another 4 months, subject to indefinite renewal.  

Tawil, 59, rejects the Israeli authorities’ decision to extend the detention of his daughter for another three months.

Tawil’s wife further held Israel fully responsible for the life of her husband, saying, “Administrative detention is unfair in the first place because it is detention without any charges or trial.”

She also denounced the failure of human rights and international organizations to contact her, adding that they should have a role in demanding an end to the Israeli policy of administrative detention.

Tawil’s wife further explained that so far there has been no agreement with the Israeli Prison Service, adding that their lawyer is still negotiating and they expect to get a response by the end of the day.

She also said her daughter has a court hearing on July 1, noting that the lawyers are doing their best to end her detention.

More than 7,000 Palestinian prisoners are currently held in some 17 Israeli jails, with dozens of them serving multiple life sentences.

Over 350 detainees, including women and minors, are under Israel’s administrative detention.

Administrative detention, which is a form of imprisonment without trial or charge, allows authorities to incarcerate Palestinians for up to six months. The duration could be extended for an infinite number of times.

Such detentions take place on orders from a military commander and on the basis of what the Israeli regime describes as “secret” evidence.  

Some prisoners have been held in administrative detention for up to 11 years.

The Palestinian inmates regularly stage hunger strikes in protest at both the administrative detention policy and harsh prison conditions.

Administrative inmates in Israeli jails say going on hunger strike is one of their few options to make their voice heard and to force Tel Aviv to end this illegal policy.

The Israeli parliament, Knesset, has already approved a law that made way for Israel’s prison officials to force-feed hunger strikers if their condition becomes life-threatening.

Critics say Israel uses the policy of administrative detention to silence the voices of Palestinians but lacks any concrete evidence that could be presented in an open, military court. Palestinians say administrative detention is a whole other level of injustice.

According to figures by the Defense for Children International, between 500 and 700 Palestinian children at the age of 12-17 are also arrested and tried in Israeli military courts every year. Israeli forces had arrested more than 17,000 minors since 2000.

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