Hundreds of Palestinians detained in Israeli jails launched a hunger strike on Friday, protesting in solidarity with Bilal Kayed, who has be detained without a trail, as well to highlight poor prisoner conditions.
Kayed, 35, has been fasting for over 50 days in protest to his detention without trial. Around 700 people are thought to be held in Israeli jails under an administrative law that can detain prisoners without having a trial.
He had served a 14.5 year sentence for his involvement with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, PFLP. Kayed was scheduled to be released on June 15, but remains incarcerated under Israel’s administrative law. Palestinian officials say that he has lost at least 60 pounds and suffering from failing kidneys.
The hunger strikers are also protesting against harsh prison conditions, including harassment by prison wardens, solitary confinement, the seizure of personal belongings, and isolating different prisoners, Palestinian authorities told AFP.
Prisoners associated with Hamas were reportedly searched and isolated from one another, with their mobile phones taken by guards. There are 262 Hamas prisoners and 93 prisoners from the PFLP estimated to be currently on strike.
The Middle East Eye reported that as many as 400 palestinian prisoners were taking part in the hunger strike with Palestinian officials expecting the protests to grow and continue.
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On Friday 80 prisoners refused to eat, along with over 300 that have been on hunger strike for the last two days around Israel and parts of the Palestinian occupied territories.
Hunger striking prisoners are to be fined $US158 each and banned from visitors for two months, Al-Jazeera reported.
In July it was reported that more than a dozen Palestinian youths were denied legal due process and locked up without a trial.
In all there are thought to be 6,290 palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, according to numbers from Israeli prison authorities. Those detained without trial under the administrative law have been on the increase in recent years.
Israel has justified the administrative detention law by saying that it allows authorities to hold prisoners and suspects while evidence is gathered and to prevent prisoners carrying out more attacks.
The administrative detention law has been met by persistent Palestinian protests, including hunger strikes, and has been internationally condemned by human rights groups and foreign governments for being cruel and arbitrary but also illegal.