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Dozens of Palestinians Held by Israel Join Hunger Strike

Ramallah (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) – Dozens of Palestinians jailed by Israel are refusing food in support of an inmate on hunger strike for 39 days over his detention without trial, the Palestinian Authority said Saturday.

A PA statement said that 48 inmates have been fasting for “days”, without specifying for how long, to back Bilal Kayed and two other prisoners who stopped eating 20 days ago.

“Forty-eight prisoners are on unlimited hunger strike in solidarity with Bilal Kayed and the two brothers Mohammed and Mahmud Balbul,” the PA’s detainee affairs commission said in a statement.

Kayed, 35, had been due for release on June 15 after serving a 14-and-a-half-year sentence for activities in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, labelled a terrorist organisation by Israel, the European Union and the United States.

Instead, Israeli authorities ordered that he remain in custody under the administrative detention law, which allows prisoners to be held without trial for renewable six-month periods.

Last week, detainee affairs commission head Issa Qaraqe said Kayed was suffering from failing kidneys and that he had lost about 30 kilos (65 pounds).

The Balbul brothers’ hunger strike is in protest against their imprisonment without trial.

Administrative detention is intended by Israel to allow authorities to hold suspects while continuing to gather evidence, with the aim of preventing further attacks in the meantime.

The system has been criticised by Palestinians, human rights groups and members of the international community.

Of more than 7,500 Palestinians currently in Israeli jails, around 700 are being held under administrative detention, Palestinian rights groups say.

Palestinians have regularly gone on hunger strike in protest at their detention.

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