Palestinian Hunger Striker Bilal Kayid Enters The 67th Day Of Hunger Strike

The Palestinian prisoner Bilal Kayid has entered the 67th day of hunger strike in protest at holding him under the illegal administrative detention after finishing his 14.5-year sentence, According to Palestinian local agencies.

The Israeli Supreme Court will hold a hearing on Monday over the release hunger striking prisoner Bilal Kayid, held for more than two months in Israeli custody without charge amid his rapidly deteriorating health, according to the head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, Issa Qaraqe.

“Kayid’s health is a ticking time bomb”, Qaraqe said in a statement, “as Israel refuses to fulfill his demands and the demands of other hunger strikers.”

Qaraqe added that as of Saturday, six Palestinian prisoners continued their open hunger strikes in Israeli prisons.

“The ball is in Israel’s court,” Qaraqe said, highlighting what he said was the Israeli government’s responsibility for the lives of the striking prisoners, who are protesting their administrative detention sentences — Israel’s controversial policy of detaining primarily Palestinians without trial or charge for renewable periods of six-months at a time.

Bilal Kayid has been on hunger strike since June 15, after he was sentenced to administrative detention the day he was set to be released after serving a 14-year year prison sentence.

Kayid, who is currently being held in the Intensive Care Unit at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, refused any medical treatments or tests earlier this month until an Israeli court agreed to hear his case.

A lawyer from the prisoners’ rights group Addameer reported at the time that after visiting him in the hospital, Kayid expressed that he wanted to be transferred back to prison so he could continue his hunger strike alongside other Palestinian prisoners.

An appeal was also presented to the Israeli Supreme Court on Wednesday regarding the conditions in which Kayid was being held, in response to an earlier Israeli court decision which rejected a request that he no longer be handcuffed to a hospital bed and be allowed to have an outside doctor check on his health.

Kayid is one of the most high-profile hunger strikers since Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq came near death during a 94-day hunger strike before he was finally released in May.

His health has severely deteriorated over previous weeks, with the Palestinian Ministry of Health warning earlier this month that his health was worsening, as doctors warned of “sudden death.”

Among the prisoners still staging open hunger strikes Saturday were Mahmoud and Muhammad al-Balboul, who launched their hunger strikes on July 1 and July 4 respectively, in protest of being placed under administrative detention.

Ayyad al-Hremi and Malik al-Qadi opened their strikes on July 11, and are currently being held in Ramla hospital, while prominent Palestinian journalist Omar Nazzal declared his strike on August 4.

Walid Masalmah, who is currently being held in Soroka hospital, was the latest to join the strike on July 18, protesting his solitary confinement.

In addition to the six prisoners on open hunger strikes, Qaraqe said that around 120 Palestinian prisoners are on solidarity hunger strikes across various Israeli prisons.

According to Qaraqe, 32, the solidarity strikers are being held in Israel’s Gilboa prison, and were reportedly subjected to section transfers within the prison, prevented from accessing cold water, and family and lawyer visitations.

Qaraqe added that the 29 solidarity strikers being held in Ofer prison have received harsh treatment. The prisoners’ mattresses were confiscated, and they have been repeatedly subject to personal and cell block searches, in what Qaraqe claimed were just more tactics to try and pressure the prisoners to end their strike.

The recent large-scale solidarity movement among prisoners has resulted in an equally massive crackdown on mostly prisoners affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS), which has conducted multiple raids, cell block closures, confiscations of personal property, and transfers of detainees in attempts to quell the strikes.

Israel’s policy of administrative detention, almost exclusively used against Palestinians, has been widely criticized by rights group which have accused Israel of using the policy to erode Palestinian political and social life by detaining scores of Palestinians without proof of wrongdoing.

According to Addameer, as of July 2016, 7,000 Palestinians were being held in Israeli prisons, 750 of whom were being held under administrative detention.