Israeli Forces Raid Cells of PFLP Prisoners Following Mass Hunger Strike

June 21, 2016

palestineRAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Officials of Israel’s prison service Tuesday stormed the cells of Palestinian prisoners affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) at Israel’s Rimon prison and searched their belongings, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement.

Forces from Israel Prison Service’s special unit the Masada raided cells in three wards of the prison, and carried out punitive measures against PFLP-affiliated prisoners, including confiscating their electronic devices, according to PPS.

A spokesperson for Israel’s prison service told Ma’an they were looking into reports.

The prison raids at Rimon prison came just a day after 65 PFLP prisoners announced a hunger strike at Israel’s Megiddo prison in protest of Israel’s recent decision to sentence PFLP-affiliated prisoner Bilal Kayid to six months of administrative detention — an Israeli policy of internment without charge or trial based on undisclosed evidence that even a detainee’s lawyer is barred from viewing.

The sentence was handed down to Kayid last week by an Israeli court after he was expected to be released following the completion of 14-and-a-half-year prison sentence.Kayid declared an open hunger strike following the court’s decision, with PFLP-affiliated prisoners announcing a two-day hunger strike in solidarity with Kayid.

The prisoners warned prison officials at the time that unless Kayid was immediately released, a hunger strike would be launched by PFLP prisoners across all of Israel’s prisons. Kayid was originally detained in 2001 for alleged involvement in the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades — the armed wing of the PFLP.

Rights groups have claimed that Israel’s administrative detention policy has been used as an attempt to disrupt Palestinian political processes, notably targeting Palestinian politicians, activists, and journalists.

Although Israeli authorities claim the withholding of evidence during administrative detention is essential for state security concerns, rights groups have instead claimed the policy allows Israeli authorities to hold Palestinians for an indefinite period of time without showing any evidence that could justify their detentions.

Israel considers the majority of Palestinian political parties to be “terrorist organizations.” As a result, most Palestinians who participate in the political arena in the occupied Palestinian territory risk being imprisoned by Israeli authorities.

According to the prisoner’s rights group Addameer, there are currently 7,000 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, 715 of whom are held under Israel’s policy of administrative detention.