Palestinian Female Prisoner Becomes New Hunger Striker

Published February 28th, 2012 - 07:24 GMT
Is this the beginning of a new movement for Palestinian prisoners? - Shown for illustrative purposes.
Is this the beginning of a new movement for Palestinian prisoners? - Shown for illustrative purposes.

Hanaa Yahya Shalabi, the longest-serving Palestinian woman prisoner in history has gone on hunger strike — following in the footsteps Khadar Adnan whose high-profile two-month hunger strike managed to secure his release.

Hanaa's lawyer told Gulf News that his client had been inspired by Adnan whose hunger strike lasted for 66 days.

"Hunger strike is the only tool Palestinian prisoners have in hand to protest against unfair and humiliating administrative detention," the lawyer said.

"Hanaa has been beaten, tortured and humiliated. She believes this is the only way to score a victory against Israel," he added.

Abdul Nasser Ferwanah, an expert in Palestinian prisoner affairs, told Gulf News that Adnan's case had opened the door for Palestinians to challenge administrative detention.

"The hunger strike of a single prisoner has caused Israel a headache that should be developed in a way that forces Israel to soften its position regarding the unfair practice," he said.

There are 310 Palestinian prisoners — 24 of which are Palestinian lawmakers — held in administrative detention in Israel. Administrative detention means no official charges have been pressed against them.

Since the Second Intifada, Israel has issued 21,000 administrative detention orders.

Collective action

Ferwaneh says he hopes all of the administrative detainees would go on a collective hunger-strike to end the practice of administrative detention "once and for all". Adnan's hunger strike sparked solidarity protests across the West Bank and Gaza, and sympathy hunger strikes by other Palestinian prisoners.

"Detainees have the right to be informed about the charges underlying any detention and be subject to a fair trial," Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign affairs chief, said in a statement.

According to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, "over the years, Israel has held thousands of Palestinians in administrative detention, for periods ranging from several months to several years".

Under international law, the measure can be used "only in the most exceptional cases, as the last means available for preventing danger that cannot be thwarted by less harmful means," it said.

Adnan, who is currently in an Israeli hospital, agreed to start taking food immediately, his lawyers said.

Under the terms of the deal, his release is conditional on "no new additional substantial evidence" emerging before April 17.

By Nasouh Nazzal

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