Palestinian hunger strikers in critical health: Red Cross

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Published Friday, September 14, 2012

Three Palestinians on hunger strike in Israeli prison will die unless authorities find a quick solution, the International Committee of the Red Cross warned Friday.

Samer Barq, Hassan Safadi and Ayman Sharawneh have been on hunger strike for weeks to demand their release from imprisonment without trial, an ICRC spokesman said.

The ICRC said it was "extremely concerned about the deteriorating health" of the men who are on long-term hunger strike.

"These people are going to die unless the detaining authorities find a prompt solution," the head of the ICRC delegation in Israel and the occupied territories, Juan Pedro Schaerer, warned in a statement.

He also stressed that Israel should respect World Medical Association resolutions that say detainees should be permitted to choose whether they are fed or receive medical treatment.

"It is essential that their choice be respected and their dignity preserved," he said.

ICRC spokesman Hicham Hassan told AFP that the three men had launched their hunger strikes at different times but that for all of them "it is at least several weeks."

"What matters is their condition, not a matter of days," he said, stressing that their condition is "very bad".

Amnesty International said last month that Safadi and Barq had refused food since May 22 and June 21 respectively to protest the policy Israel calls "administrative detention" which a military court can renew for periods of six months.

More than 1,500 Palestinian prisoners, including Safadi, in May ended a mass hunger strike for better conditions in a deal with prison authorities.

One of the terms of the accord was that those held without trial in administrative detention would go free at the end of their current terms, unless fresh evidence emerged against them.

Safadi went back on hunger strike after Israel broke the deal and renewed his imprisonment.

The ICRC said its delegates and medical staff had regularly visited the detainees since the hunger strikes began, to monitor their health and the way they were being treated.

A separate coalition of human rights groups issued a statement earlier this month warning that the three prisoner were near death and required immediate medical attention.

The groups, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Al-Haq and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, have been closely monitoring the issue.

In addition to food deprivation, the groups say that the prisoners have been subjected to severe physical and psychological abuse by Israeli prison guards. The three are being held in solitary confinement in Israel's Ramleh prison.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have slammed the policy of administrative detention as a violation of international humanitarian law.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)


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