Palestinian hunger strikers denied release

Israel’s Supreme Court rejected an appeal for the release of two hunger-striking Palestinians.

In its decision May 7, the court reportedly said that Bilal Diab, 27, of Jenin, and Thaer Halahla, 33, of Hebron, both members of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization, remained a terror threat to Israel and that a hunger strike is not enough reason to release them from Israeli jail.

They have been on a hunger strike for more than 70 days and are near death, according to reports.

Diab and Halahla are protesting being held in administrative detention. A prisoner can be held without charges in administrative detention for up to four months; the term also can be renewed.

Some 1,400 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are on an open-ended mass hunger strike launched more than three weeks ago. The strikers are calling for an end to solitary confinement and isolation; for allowing families of prisoners from the Gaza Strip to visit their loved ones; and for permitting prisoners to have newspapers, learning materials and specific television channels. They are also protesting administrative detention.

Hamas has threatened consequences if any of the hunger strikers die, and Islamic Jihad has threatened to launch rocket attacks at Israel from Gaza.

Two high-profile hunger strikers were released earlier this year after cutting deals with Israeli authorities. — jta