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Official: Israel warns to deny Palestinian prisoners treatment if strike not called off

This file picture shows Palestinian prisoners in the yard of Israel's Megiddo prison. (Photo by AFP)

A Palestinian official says Israeli prison authorities have threatened to deprive Palestinian prisoners of medical treatment if they refuse to call off an open-ended hunger strike launched months ago against their arbitrary detentions.

Qadri Abu Bakr, the head of the Palestinian Commission of Detainees' and Ex-Detainees' Affairs, told Lebanon’s Al-Mayadeen news network on Wednesday that Palestinians currently languishing in Israeli jails need support and attention of the entire Palestinian society as well as international institutions in order to pressure the Tel Aviv regime to release them. 

He stated that a number of Palestinian detainees in Hadarim Prison have lately faced brutal assaults by Israeli forces, which has left the striking prisoners with no choice but to press ahead with their demand until freedom or death.

Palestine’s official Wafa news agency reported on Sunday that the health condition of two Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails had deteriorated after months of hunger strike in protest against the Tel Aviv regime’s so-called administrative detention.

Palestinian officials say Khalil Awawdeh, 40, from the occupied West Bank city of al-Khalil, has been on hunger strike for more than 100 days.

He is said to be suffering from headaches, fatigue, blurry vision, joint pain, irregular heartbeat, frequent vomiting and significant loss of weight.

According to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, Awawda was transferred from Ramle prison to an Israeli hospital after his health deteriorated this week.

Qaddoura Fares, the head of the independent and non-governmental Palestinian organization that represents former and current prisoners, recently said the Israel Prison Service (IPS) would move Palestinian prisoners to hospitals on their 50th day of hunger strike, but in the case of Awawda, the IPS refused to do so and told him he would only be hospitalized if he fell into a coma.

Awawda, a father of four girls, has been arrested five times since 2005 for political activism, and has been placed in administrative detention three times.

The other Palestinian prisoner, Ra’ed Rayyan, 27, from the Beit Duqqu village, northwest of al-Quds, has been on hunger strike for 67 days. He is also said to be suffering from serious health complications.

There are thousands of Palestinians held arbitrarily in Israeli jails. Human rights organizations say the regime violates all the rights and freedoms granted to prisoners under the Geneva Conventions.

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.

Palestinian detainees have continuously resorted to open-ended hunger strikes in an attempt to express outrage at detentions.

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

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

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