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Six Palestinian prisoners hunger strike in bid for freedom from detention without charge or trial

SIX Palestinian political prisoners are continuing their hunger strike in protest against being held without charge or trial, the PLO’s prisoners and ex-prisoners’ affairs commission said today.

Kayed Fasfous, Mikdad Qawasme, Alaa Araj, Hisham Abu Hawwash, Rayiq Bisharat and Shadi Abu Aker are among the 520 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons on draconian “administrative detention” orders.

The commission said that two of the hunger strikers, Kayed al-Fasfous and Miqdad Qawasme, have been without food for more than 60 days.

They, along with Alaa Araj, have been transferred to a prison hospital and are seriously weakened, with all three unable to walk unaided due to the deterioration in their health.

All six men have been subjected to attempts to break their hunger strike, with long periods in solitary confinement and restrictions placed on their access to lawyers.

“Administrative detention,” introduced in Palestine by the British colonial mandate, allows incarceration without charge or trial based on secret evidence  — presented by the Israeli security services — available only to the military judge but not seen by anyone else, including the lawyers.

The hunger strike continues as the two remaining Palestinians who escaped from Gilboa maximum security prison were recaptured in Jenin in Sunday’s early hours.

It was feared that Ayham Kamamji and Munadil Nafat would be tortured by Israeli forces: their fellow inmates suffered severe beatings after they were brought into custody last week.

The jail break was deemed a humiliation for Israel as it emerged that the men had escaped via a tunnel dug with cutlery from the prison canteen — the teaspoon becoming a symbol of freedom.

Zakaria Zubeidi, among the first of the prisoners to be found, explained how they had gone without water during their four days of freedom and had not asked anyone for help “to protect them from any Israeli punitive measures.”

Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, has said the six “heroic” prisoners, along with others including Marwan Barghouti and Ahmad Sadaat, must be a priority as part of any future prisoner swap deal.

Hamas leader Khalil al-Hayya described the so-called Operation Freedom tunnel as “a slap in the face” for those advocating peace and reconciliation with Israel.

“This operation tells the occupation that we are not numbers but lions, preparing for the day of freedom,” he told crowds gathered in Gaza last Friday.

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