Two Palestinian Prisoners Wage Hunger Strike in Israel

Two Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prison are on hunger strike to protest against their detention without charges.

The two prisoners are reportedly Mahmoud Sarsak, who is on the 82nd day of his hunger strike, and Akram Rikhawi, who is on the 58th day of his hunger strike.

Mahmoud al-Sarsak is a member of Palestine’s national soccer team. The other prisoner Akram al-Rekhawi is suffering from diabetes.

SecretaryGeneral Ban Ki-moon (centre) gives a statement on the Israeli-Palestinian prisoner exchange taking place today, which will include the release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, to a Reuters news crew in Geneva, Switzerland. With Mr. Ban is Corinne Momal-Vanian (left), Director of the UN Information Service (UNIS) in Geneva.UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferre

Expressing concern over the fate of two Palestinian prisoners detained without charges by Israel, an independent United and called for their immediate release.

“These individuals are protesting against their detention without charges and are suffering immensely for it.”

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights Richard Falk

Mr. Falk says there is no acceptable basis for continuing to hold these persons, and Israel will be responsible if any permanent harm results.

Reports say Mr. Sarsak has lost one third of his body weight and Mr. Rikhawi is suffering from aggravated diabetes and asthma.

He stresses that if Israeli officials cannot present evidence to support charges against these men, then they must be released immediately.

“Israel must end the appalling and unjust treatment of Palestinian prisoners and the international community needs to raise its voice and take steps to end Israel’s flagrant misuse of administrative detention.” – Special Rapporteur Mr. Falk

On February this year, following mediation by Egypt and Jordan, Israel has agreed to end solitary confinement for all Palestinian prisoners and allow around 400 prisoners from Gaza to receive family visits in an agreement reached today.

The agreement also covered discussions on improvements in prison conditions, such as access to televisions and telephone calls.

In return, Palestinian prisoners’ leaders reportedly have signed a commitment to “completely halt terrorist activity inside Israeli prisons,” including recruitment, practical support, funding and co-ordination of operations.

On April this year, more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners began an open-ended hunger strike on Palestinian Prisoners Day. This hunger strike is a protest against unjust arrest procedures, arbitrary detention and bad prison conditions.

For weeks now, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and other senior UN officials have been stressing the importance of averting any further deterioration in the condition of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody who are on hunger strike.

On February this year, a Palestinian detainee in Israel waged a hunger strike for almost two months, trying to draw attention to Israel’s military justice system and its treatment of detainees.

Khader Adnan, 33, has refused food for 55 days in protest at his imprisonment without charge by Israel.

Adnan’s hunger strike is the longest ever waged by a Palestinian detainee.

In a addition, a Palestinian woman was on a hunger strike for nearly a month to protest at her treatment.

Reports say Hana Shalabi is refusing to eat since she was detained on February 16. She is reportedly being held in solitary confinement.

Ms. Shalabi became the second Palestinian detainee to go on a hunger strike in quick succession.

Shalabi, 30, is reportedly a member of Islamic Jihad, which is committed to Israel’s destruction.

On October 2011, Hamas released Israeli Staff Sergeant Gilad Shalit, who had been held captive since June 2006, in exchange for the release of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners by Israel. The first 477 of those prisoners were released yesterday.

Israel captured East Jerusalem along with the West Bank and Gaza in the Six-Day War in 1967, but annexed the city as its united capital in a move not recognized by the international community. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as capital of their future State.

Talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians have been stalled since late September 2010 following Israel’s refusal to extend a 10-month freeze on settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.