Palestinian prisoner’s health declines amid hunger strike
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — A Palestinian held without charge by Israeli authorities is in “extremely dangerous” condition more than three months into a hunger strike to protest his detention, a group representing detainees said Thursday.
Miqdad al-Qawasmi, 24, is the least healthy of six incarcerated Palestinian hunger strikers who are demanding their release from so-called administrative detention, according to Anani Sarahneh, a spokeswoman for the Palestinian Prisoners Club. The policy allows Israel to hold Palestinians for months or years without charge.
Human rights groups say administrative detention denies Palestinians due process, while Israel says it is needed to detain suspected militants without revealing sensitive intelligence that could compromise sources.
An Israeli medical official said al-Qawasmi has been in Israel’s Kaplan Hospital for about a month and was transferred to intensive care Tuesday, where he continues to refuse food but is drinking water. The official described his condition as “difficult but stable” and said the hospital was unable to provide further details because of privacy laws. The official was not authorized to make a medical diagnosis and spoke on condition of anonymity.
At least four of the other six hunger strikers are receiving medical treatment in Israeli hospitals, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Club. The group says Israeli authorities have given no indication they will concede to the prisoners’ demands.
Hunger striking is a common form of protest among Palestinian prisoners and has helped secure concessions from Israeli authorities over the years.
In July, a Palestinian man was released from Israeli custody and transferred to a hospital in the occupied West Bank after more than two months on hunger strike. Last week, 250 prisoners from the militant Islamic Jihad group began a hunger strike in protest against their redistribution across wings occupied by prisoners from other factions.
Israel is imprisoning some 4,650 Palestinians, ranging from known militants convicted of deadly attacks against Israelis to teenagers detained for hurling stones at Israeli troops. Tensions in the prisons have remained high since a dramatic breakout last month in which six inmates tunneled out of a high-security facility. All six have been recaptured.