Two Palestinian hunger strikers’ lives in danger, court says

The two men have refused food for two months. Israel’s top court froze their administrative detention (imprisonment without charge or trial) until their health improves, but Ahmad Abu Farah and Anas Shahid say that’s not enough.

A Palestinian teen at a protest in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners in Israel, September 13, 2016. (Sebi Berens/Flash90)
A Palestinian teen at a protest in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners in Israel, September 13, 2016. (Sebi Berens/Flash90)

Two Palestinian men being held by Israel under administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial, have reached a life-threatening stage in their hunger strikes.

Ahmad Abu Farah, 29, and Anas Shadid, 20, have been on hunger strike for 61 and 58 days, respectively, in protest of being held without charge or trial. They are both hospitalized at Asaf Harofeh Medical Center in central Israel, and are both in serious condition, according to Atty. Ahlam Hadad.

On Monday, the Israeli High Court of Justice ordered the pair’s administrative detention orders frozen as long as their medical condition remains serious, but the two say they are continuing their hunger strikes until the detention orders are canceled entirely.

Ahmad Abu Farah was arrested on August 2, and Israeli military authorities issued an administrative detention order against him several days later. The vague Israeli accusations against him are that he is an activist with Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and that he poses a danger to the area.

Shadid was arrested a day before Abu Farah, was interrogated about several Facebook posts he published, and after Israeli authorities decided not to charge him with a crime they decided to put him under administrative detention. The accusation against him is that he is involved in “violent terrorist activities,” as Supreme Court Justice Uzi Fogelman phrased it.

Shadid and Abu Farah both reject the accusations against them.

Administrative detainees, by virtue of not facing a formal indictment or trial, have no opportunity to defend themselves against the state’s accusations. Often times they have no idea what the specific accusations are, or from what incident or activity they stem. Administrative detention orders are valid for up to six months, but can be renewed indefinitely.

The two men’s medical condition has seriously deteriorated over the past few days, according to Hadad, who said they are drinking only water and refusing all food and supplements. They both have been occasionally losing consciousness and are suffering from severe pain, muscle loss, and loss of vision.

Abu Farah is suffering from sharp stomach pains, and Shadid’s heart has become irregular and is starting to lose liver function, Hadad said, adding that doctors have warned there is a real and immediate risk to their lives.

In a response to the High Court petition the two filed, Israeli authorities said they do not oppose freezing their administrative detention orders as long as they remain in serious medical condition.

That practice, of freezing administrative detention orders in an attempt to end Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strikes, has become a common response by the Israeli courts and security services in the past year or so. The state’s logic, it seems, is to give the impression that they are making a concession to the prisoners, that they are no longer in administrative detention and that they no longer pose a threat in their current medical state, but the moment they recover the detention order is reinstated.

Justice Fogelman wrote as much in his decision in this case:

There is no disagreement that the petitioners’ medical condition is very bad and that they are in real danger of death. But it is clear, and the respondents also agree, that under these circumstances the petitioners pose no danger at the current point in time. Therefore, the preventative aim that forms the basis of their arrest does not exist at this time and the continuation of the detention orders cannot remain unchanged. At the same time, we don’t find it appropriate to order the cancellation of the administrative detention orders.

“The two prisoners reject [the freezing of their detention orders] because they say it only sidesteps the problem and doesn’t deal with it,” explained Hadad. “During the course of the hearing, Justice Fogelman asked me why they object, considering that [freezing the order] is like canceling it, and I told him that if it is like canceling it — then cancel it. They want a full cancellation of [their] administrative detention.”

Administrative detention is intended for only the most extreme and rare of circumstances because it violates the most basic right to defend oneself against accusations leveled by the state. Nevertheless, Israel is currently imprisoning roughly 700 Palestinians in administrative detention.

In recent years, hunger strikes by administrative detainees have ended with negotiated agreements with the state, either to release the hunger striker early, or a commitment to not extend the administrative detention order beyond its expiration date. It’s an absurd thing to agree to on the authorities’ part considering that one second they claim the hunger striker poses a security threat and the next minute they are willing to release him.

3 responses to “Israel is turning Palestinian students into criminals”

  1. Lewis from Afula says:

    You cannot turn a “fakestinyan” student into a criminal.
    The fact that he calls himself / herself “fakestinyan” proves he / she is already a criminal.

  2. Firentis says:

    So there are terrorists taking studying at Palestinian universities? Not much of a surprise for a society that treats terrorists as heroes and teaches children that the highest virtue is to kill a Jew.

    • Ben says:

      So there are junior-totalitarian pre-Shin Bet bastards taking studying at Israeli universities? Not much of a surprise for a society that treats East German Stasi-emulating occupation stormtroopers and secret police as heroes and teaches children that the highest virtue is to round up and torture Palestinians, ethnically cleanse them and grab their land. And profess shock when they politically organize and resist. And call it all “terror.”

      • Itshak Gordine says:

        You are in delirium, Ben. When I was a teenager in Switzerland, some members of the Revolutionary Marxist League used the same terms as you. Are you a teenager?
        You are in delirium, Ben. When I was a teenager in Switzerland, some members of the Revolutionary Marxist League used the same terms as you. Are you a teenager?
        Your outrageous remarks cover you with ridicule. Are you radicalizing yourself?

        • Ben says:

          Last time I checked Switzerland did not storm into sleeping French villages at 3AM and drag fathers out and haul them away in front of their terrified children, and do this often “just for practice.” Or indefinitely detain children without charge, in order to maintain an illegal occupation of French territory. Nor does Switzerland have a scandalous soldiers’ organization called Breaking the Silence. Nor does Switzerland as far as I know use its intelligence services to torture in basements students who protest the government and those who “have meetings with” “affiliates we don’t like.” Nor capriciously arrest French lawmakers without charge to break their will. Nor does Switzerland coldly blackmail gay people while shouting “look at us, look at us, we are so gay friendly!!!”

          One again Itshak G. Halevy appears to think that people are fools who cannot glean basic information, make basic distinctions, or tell which side is up. Or else this Hardali settler is so tightly sealed inside a hermetic far right messianic echo chamber of “news” that he actually does not know what is going on. Oh wait, he is here most days on +972 for many months now and we will presume he actually reads the articles. So scratch the second hypothesis. Scratch that excuse. Which leads to the conclusion that Dr. Halevy’s misdiagnosing of “teenager delirium” is itself diagnosable as a condition called Querulous Ad Hominemitis.

          • Itshak Gordine says:

            You live in a dream: Many complaints concern the police of some Swiss cities. Africans were shot dead and teenagers or young adults beaten up. This happened to the son of one of our friends and any complaint is impossible. Searches in France or Switzerland take place in the night or early morning. In the US, in some cities, the police would have the easy trigger with dozens of deaths a year.

          • Ben says:

            You’re kidding me, right? You’re going to try to tell us that what French and Swiss police do equals what the Israeli army and border police do to the Palestinians? Night in night out, day in day out? What this tells me is that you have a willfully fairy-tale version of the occupation, a fairy-tale version of what the army does in the territories, because you yourself are an army-coddled-and-stroked settler-denizen of those territories.
            You do not rise to the level of a serious interlocutor about this.

            There are parallels to the way the police treat African Americans in America but the parallels go only so far, and the parallels are mainly about racist attitudes and relative carelessness with black lives, but the American police are not hauling in black people and their children for indefinite detention without due process or torturing them in basements to extract information. Or raiding their houses at 3AM and dragging people out just for practice, and dumping the dragged person on the side of the road a mile from their village when “the exercise” is concluded. Get real.