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Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in protest at Israel’s medical negligence

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)
A file photo shows Palestinians at a rally voicing solidarity with prisoners in Israeli jails. (Via the Palestinian Information Center)

Palestinians at an Israeli detention center have gone on an open-ended hunger strike in protest at Israel's medical negligence towards a cancer-stricken prisoner. 

In a statement released on Thursday, the Palestinian Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs said that the inmates at the Israeli prison of Ashkelon had refused their daily meals in solidarity with Nasser Abu Hamid on Wednesday. 

The commission’s lawyer, Karim Ajwa, who managed to visit Abu Hamdi in Ramla prison hospital, confirmed that the health condition of the cancer-stricken prisoner is deteriorating rapidly and has reached a very critical and dangerous stage.

Palestinian sources say Abu Hamid was suffering from a collapse in his immune system.

The 49-year-old was first arrested in 1987 during the First Palestinian Indifada (Uprising). Thereafter, he spent his life in and out of Israeli detention centers and prisons up until 1996.

Last time, he was arrested during the Second Intifada in 2002 for “resisting the Israeli occupation,” and sentenced to serving seven life sentences and an additional 50-year jail term.

Abu Hamid is one of the five brothers from the same family, handed life sentences by Israel, with a sixth brother killed by Israeli occupying forces.

His health condition has seriously deteriorated since August 2021. Last October, he underwent surgery to remove a lung tumor and was transferred to the Israeli jail before a complete recovery.

He had begun to receive chemotherapy just recently after a deliberate delay by the Israeli authorities.

Besides dismal sanitary conditions, the prisoners are subjected to other inhumane and degrading circumstances, including administrative detention, solitary confinement, and bans on family visits.

Half of Palestinian prisoners in Israel's Ofer prison infected with COVID-19

In a related development, a Palestinian prisoners advocacy group revealed on Thursday that more than half of the Palestinian prisoners held in the Israeli Ofer prison have been infected with COVID-19.

The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) said the Israeli prison had been using the pandemic as a tool of abuse and repression. 

The rights group further said Israel imposes a total blackout on the number and health situation of the infected prisoners.

Palestinians say Israel's medical negligence is behind a surge of COVID-19 among Palestinian prisoners 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.

There are reportedly more than 7,000 Palestinians held at Israeli jails. Hundreds of the inmates have been apparently incarcerated under the practice of the so-called administrative detention. Some prisoners have been held in administrative detention for up to 11 years.

Palestinians and human rights groups say "administrative 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.

The detention takes place on orders from a military commander and on the basis of what the Israeli regime describes as secret evidence. 

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

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