Fears grow for hunger-striking, ill Palestinians detainees

Fears grow for hunger striking and severely ill Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails amid accusations of neglect
3 min read
22 June, 2021
The Palestinian Prisoners’ Club accused Israel of deliberately neglecting the health of Palestinian detainees, as a prisoner held without trial approached the 50th day of his hunger strike and the condition of another seriously ill detainee worsened.
Ghadanfar Abu Atwan (in centre poster) has been held by Israel without trial since last October [Getty]

Fears are growing for a number of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails who are on hunger strike to protest their continued detention without trial and medical neglect by Israeli authorities.

The Palestinian Prisoners' Club, an NGO which campaigns for the rights of Palestinian detainees held in Israeli jails, said on Monday that Ghadanfar Abu Atwan, a 28-year-old prisoner held in Israeli "administrative detention" without charge, underwent emergency resuscitation after losing consciousness at the Kaplan Medical Centre in the Rehovot on the 48th day of his hunger strike.

On Tuesday the Palestinian Prisoners' Club added that Israeli authorities were deliberately neglecting the health of Eyad Harbiyat, a prisoner held by Israel since 2002 who suffers from a severe neurological disorder.

The NGO also accused Israel of neglecting the health of 48-year-old detainee Ali Al-Huroub who recently underwent an operation in an Israeli hospital to have a tumour in his chest removed. Chemotherapy treatment has been repeatedly delayed by Israeli authorities.

The prisoners' rights NGO said that Israel had repeatedly refused permission for Ghadanfar Abu Atwan’s lawyers to visit him at the Kaplan Medical Centre.

Abu Atwan, who is from the town of Doura south of Hebron in the West Bank, was detained by Israeli forces in October 2020 and placed in administrative detention without charge for six months. His administrative detention order was later renewed.

Israel routinely uses administrative detention orders to hold Palestinian prisoners indefinitely without charge or trial. On 5 May Abu Atwan began a hunger strike to protest against being held in administrative detention.

The Palestinian Prisoners' Club accused Israel of deliberately exposing Abu Atwan to harm and long-term health complications by refusing to accede to his demand to see his lawyers.

Regarding Eyad Harbiyat, who has been sentenced by Israel to life imprisonment plus 20 years for his alleged involvement with the Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, a faction active during the Second Palestinian Intifada, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club said that his life was in danger because of previous Israeli neglect of his health.

Harbiyat was taken on Monday to the Soroka Medical Centre in Beersheba in southern Israel from the Ramon Prison after a prolonged delay.

He suffers from a major neurological disorder and a severely inflamed prostate. He was taken to hospital before for treatment but Israeli authorities ordered his return to prison despite the fact that he was severely ill.

The Palestinian Prisoners' Club said that this health condition has since worsened and accused Israeli authorities of "slowly murdering" Harbiyat, who it said had suffered years of medical neglect.

Israel currently holds over 4,000 Palestinian detainees in its prisons, with hundreds held in administrative detention according to the human rights organisation B’Tselem.