Last updated: 25 April, 2012

Israel court rejects hunger striker’s appeal

Israel’s Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by a Palestinian prisoner who has been refusing food for more than seven weeks to protest being held without charge, his lawyer told AFP on Wednesday.

Hassan Safdi, 31, was arrested on June 29, 2011 and has been held without charge under a procedure called administrative detention, which means a prisoner can be held for renewable periods of up to six months.

He has been on hunger strike since March 5.

Safdi’s lawyer Osama Maqbul told AFP he had lodged an appeal against the administrative detention order with an Israeli military court last month but it had been rejected.

A second appeal, this time to the Supreme Court, was also rejected, Maqbul said, with the court urging Safdi to end his protest.

“His appeal was rejected yesterday by the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, which ratified the detention order based on the secret file which consists of intelligence information,” he said.

“The court advised him to eat because he will not be released.”

After 52 days on hunger strike, Safdi had lost 30 kilogrammes (66 pounds) and was “in critical condition,” Maqbul said, indicating that the prisoner was suffering kidney problems.

A spokeswoman for Palestinian prisoner rights group Addameer said Safdi had attended the court session in a wheel chair.

“They refused his appeal and he was told he is responsible for own his health situation,” she said.

Safdi is one of eight Palestinian prisoners who have been refusing food for an extended period of time, with six of them now being held in the hospital wing of Ramle prison near Tel Aviv.

“Six prisoners who started their hunger strike several months ago have been placed in the medical ward of the Ramle prison and are on a drip,” Sivan Weizman, spokeswoman for the Israel Prisons Service said.

Five of them are being held in administrative detention, and two — Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahla — are now entering their 57th day on hunger strike.

On Tuesday, their lawyer Jamil al-Khatib also filed an appeal at the Supreme Court after a military judge had on Monday rejected their appeals following a closed meeting with members of Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service.

A ninth prisoner, Ahmed Saqer, who had refused food for 32 days, was released last week after spending 43 months in administrative detention.

Refusing food has become an increasingly popular form of protest since the landmark strike undertaken by Islamic Jihad prisoner Khader Adnan, who went 66 days without food in a campaign that turned him into a national hero.

Over the past week, another 1,350 prisoners have begun an open-ended hunger strike to protest against the conditions in which they are being held.

There are 4,699 Palestinians being held in Israeli jails, of whom 319 are in administrative detention, according to Prisoners’ Club figures.