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More Palestinians join hunger strike in protest at indefinite detention in Israeli prisons

Administrative detention is used by Israeli security forces to detain Palestinians without charge or trial
Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike (from left): Ahmed Ghanaam, Heba al-Labadi and Musaab al-Hindi (Screengrab)

More Palestinian prisoners have joined a long-running hunger strike by three prisoners who are protesting against being held without charge indefinitely in Israeli prisons.

Between them the three men have spent 27 years under administrative detention, under a system that allows Israeli authorities to arrest and hold people without charge for prolonged periods.

Administrative detention is a highly controversial policy used almost exclusively against Palestinians where prisoners can be detained without charge or trial, without the possibility of appeal or knowing what charges are being levelled against them.

Ahmed Ghanaam, a 42-year-old Palestinian from the village of Dura in the southern occupied West Bank, began his hunger strike 79 days ago on 14 July, the day he was arrested and placed in detention without charge.

An Israeli court renewed Ghanam's administrative detention on 6 September, when he was on his 55th day on hunger strike.

His brother told the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) that Ghanam had been arrested three times and placed under administrative detention, spending a total of nine years in Israeli prisons.

Diagnosed with cancer

Ghanam is currently in critical condition, having been diagnosed with cancer before being detained.

Tarek Gaadan, a 46-year-old from the village of Deir Abu Mishaal in the northern West Bank, has also been on hunger strike for 62 days, according to PPS.

Gaadan has been arrested 17 times by Israeli forces since 1989, and has spent almost 11 years in prison, most of them under administrative detention. He was accused of being a member of Islamic Jihad in the West Bank.

Gaadan went on hunger strike for 96 days in 2013 in protest at being administratively detained and was subsequently released.

He was arrested again in February and was put on administrative detention for six months. In August, he launched his hunger strike after Israeli authorities extended his detention for another period.

Ismail Ali, 30, from Abu Dis, east of annexed East Jerusalem, has been on hunger strike for 69 days. Arrested in January, he launched his hunger strike in June after the first six months of his administrative detention was renewed.

He was also a former prisoner and spent almost seven years in the Israeli jails.

More join strikes

Other prisoners who have joined the strike are: Ahmed Zahran, 42, also from Deir Abu Mishaal, on his eighth day of a hunger strike; Musaab al-Hindi, 29, from Tall in the northern West Bank, who has been on a hunger strike for six days; and Heba al-Labadi, a 24-year- old who has also been abstaining from food for six days.

Labadi, who holds both Jordanian citizenship and a Palestinian Authority identity card, was detained last month when she was travelling to the West Bank from Jordan, where she lives, in order to attend a relative’s wedding.

She was sentenced to five months in administrative detention and started her hunger strike on 24 September. Since then, she has been placed in solitary confinement in Damon prison, in northern Israel, PPS reported.

On Sunday, 44-year-old Samir Arbeed, a Palestinian accused of being behind an attack in an illegal Israeli settlement in the central West Bank, was hospitalised and in critical condition after having been reportedly tortured during interrogation by Israel’s Shin Bet domestic intelligence service, lawyers and his family said.

Dozens of Palestinians demonstrated in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday to protest against the torture of Arbeed and in solidarity with prisoners on hunger strike.

According to Palestinian prisoners' rights group Addameer, 5,150 Palestinians were detained by Israel as of July - 460 of whom are under administrative detention.