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Palestinian prisoners continue boycott of Israeli military courts for 3rd consecutive week

The file photo shows Palestinian political prisoners in Ofer Prison, southwest of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

Palestinian inmates imprisoned under Israel’s so-called policy of administrative detention continue their boycott of the Israeli military courts for the 23rd consecutive day.

At least 500 Palestinian prisoners have been registering their protest against the controversial policy by refusing to show up for their military court hearings since the beginning of the year, Palestine’s official Wafa news agency reported on Sunday.

The boycott includes hearings for renewal of administrative detention orders as well as appeal hearings and later sessions at Israel’s so-called supreme court.

Palestinian detainees say their move is a continuation of longstanding Palestinian efforts "to put an end to the unjust administrative detention practiced against our people by the occupation forces."

Palestinian prisoners also maintain that Israel’s use of administrative detention has expanded in recent years and many women, children and elderly people have been incarcerated under the thorny policy.

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.

Palestinians and human rights groups say the detention violates the right to due process since evidence is withheld from prisoners while they are held for lengthy periods without being charged, tried, or convicted. Palestinian detainees have continuously resorted to open-ended hunger strikes in an attempt to express their outrage at the detention. They have also been subjected to systematic torture, harassment and repression all through the years of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.

More than 7,000 Palestinian prisoners are currently held in some 17 Israeli jails, with dozens of them serving multiple life sentences. Over 540 detainees, including women and minors, are under Israel’s administrative detention.

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. 

Palestinian prisoner in coma for 3rd week over medical negligence

In a separate development, a Palestinian commission for prisoners said Nasser Abu Hamid, a cancer patient held in Israeli jails, is in a coma for the third week due to acute pneumonia.

In a statement on Sunday, the Palestinian Commission of Detainees' and Ex-Detainees' Affairs called on human rights and international organizations to urgently intervene and pressure the Israeli authorities to release the49-year old Palestinian prisoner, Wafa news agency reported. The commission further warned that Abu Hamid is facing an imminent risk of death as a result of his suffering from the consequences of a surgery he underwent last year.

On Saturday, Abu Hamid’s brother said the Israel Prison Service (IPS) has not allowed anyone, including family members, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) or political figures to visit his critically ill brother in Israeli detention.  

Hussein al-Sheikh, head of the General Authority of Civil Affairs of the Palestinian Authority, said in a post on his Twitter account on Saturday that the Israeli regime had rejected a request he officially made to visit Abu Hamid to check on his health condition. He held the Tel Aviv regime fully responsible for the Palestinian inmate’s life while calling on international organizations to pressure Israel to release him.

Earlier this month, the family of Abu Hamid also appealed to all parties of concern to take immediate action to save the life of their son. Abu Hamid, from Amari refugee camp in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, slipped into a coma 19 days ago after suffering a severe inflammation of the lungs as a result of bacterial contamination. His health condition has deteriorated since August 2021. Abu Hamid has been in jail since 2002. Last October, he underwent surgery to remove a lung tumor and was transferred to the Israeli jail before a complete recovery. He has begun to receive chemotherapy just recently after a deliberate delay by the Israeli authorities. Abu Hamid has received seven life sentences and a 50-year jail term.

There are thousands of Palestinians held in Israeli jails. Israeli jail authorities keep Palestinian prisoners under deplorable conditions lacking proper hygienic standards. Palestinian inmates have also been subjected to systematic torture, harassment and repression all through the years of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.

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