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Israeli forces attack peaceful protest held in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners

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)
An Israeli prison guard keeps watch from a tower at Ayalon prison. (File photo by Reuters)

Israeli forces have attacked a demonstration held in solidarity with Palestinian inmates who have been on hunger strike in Israeli jails in protest at their detention without charge, as the Tel Aviv regime presses ahead with its repressive measures against the prisoners.

The Israeli forces used tear gas canisters to quell the protest, causing dozens of Palestinians to suffocate due to inhalation of tear gas, Palestine's official Wafa news agency reported on Sunday.

The demonstrators demanded the immediate release of Palestinian inmates who are currently on hunger strike in Israeli prisons and are facing the imminent threat of death or serious harm.

According to a report by the Detainees Affairs Commission, at least seven Palestinian inmates have remained on an open-ended hunger strike to protest the Israeli so-called administrative detention, which is a form of imprisonment in which the individual is never tried and can be held indefinitely.

Amjad al-Najjar, spokesperson for the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS), stressed the need for immediate action to save the lives of the hunger-striking inmates in Israeli jails.

No end to administrative detention

Ofer Israeli military court has upheld the administrative detention of Palestinian inmate Shadi Abu-Akr for a period of six months, claiming that it has found no reason to end his administrative detention,

Abu-Akr is among the seven Palestinian prisoners who are currently on hunger strike and insist to continue their strike despite their seriously deteriorating condition.

Abu-Akr has been on hunger strike for 61 days in protest at his indefinite, unfair and unexplained imprisonment.  

The United Nations’ experts have already expressed grave fear for the lives of the seven hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners, calling on Israel to completely end its unlawful practice of administrative detention as well as the harsh detention conditions of the inmates.

"In particular, we insist that the imposition of solitary confinement on detainees already weakened by months of hunger strike, must stop immediately," they said.

The UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), as well as many human rights group have frequently expressed serious concern about hunger strikes’ health condition and call for their immediate release.

Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners are held under "administrative detention", in which Israel keeps the detainees without charge for up to six months, a period which can be extended an infinite number of times. Women and minors are among those detainees.

The detention takes 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.

Administrative detention is illegal under international law. However, the Israeli regime uses it to repress the Palestinian people.

Palestinian detainees have continuously resorted to open-ended hunger strikes in an attempt to express their outrage at the detention. Palestinians hold Israeli authorities fully responsible for any deterioration of the circumstances in jails.

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

Palestinian inmates have also been subjected to systematic torture, harassment and repression.

Israeli jail authorities also keep Palestinian prisoners under deplorable conditions, lacking proper hygienic standards

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

Rights groups describe Israel’s use of administrative detention as a “bankrupt tactic” and have long called on Israel to bring its use to an end. 

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