High Court rejects appeal; two inmates on hunger strike may die

The High Court of Justice rejected the petition filed by hunger striking administrative detainees Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahla to release them immediately. The two have been refusing to eat for 70 days – and doctors fear for their lives.

Justices ruled on Monday that there is a suspicion that the two detainees are active within Islamic Jihad, and therefore their continued detention is approved. However, justices also noted that their interrogations were insufficient, and that better investigations need be carried out in the future. The ruling ends with this statement (translation mine):

[The hunger strike] cannot in itself form a factor in the decision regarding the validity of an administrative detention… Administrative detention causes unease for any judge, but it is sometimes a necessity when the revealing of intelligence gathered against the petitioner would endanger the people who gave it or the ways of gathering it.

However, justices also asked authorities to consider releasing the two based on the Parole Act, which requires that inmates whose life is at risk from detention itself need be set free. Physicians for Human Rights has released a statement saying the court’s decision is “tantamount to sentencing them to death.”

Demonstration in support of prisoners, Nablus (Ahmad Al-Bazz / Activestills)
Demonstration in support of prisoners, Nablus (Ahmad Al-Bazz / Activestills)

The two detainees have now broken a previous record by Khader Adnan, who was the first in a series of detainees to go on hunger strike, and who reached an agreement with Israeli authorities to be released after 66 days without food. Their lawyer, Jawad Boulos, recently told Haaretz that he fears that after the release of Khader Adnan and Hana Shalabi, Israel will prefer seeing detainees die behind bars than allow them to chip away at its system of administrative detention. On the other hand, in recent days several Israeli officials started talking about reconsidering the use of administrative detention, and bettering conditions in prison.

The detainees’ hunger strike has grown over previous weeks, and now includes more than 1,500 Palestinian inmates in Israeli prisons, and regular demonstrations of support have been taking place in the West Bank and Gaza.

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