Mothers greet end of hunger strikes with joy

Palestinians hold banners in support of borther Muhammad and Mahmoud al-Balboul, and Malik al-Qadi, in the West Bank city of Nablus, on 21 September. The same day, the three men ended lengthy hunger strikes after Israel agreed not to renew their administrative detention.

Nedal Eshtayah APA images

Three Palestinians detained by Israel have ended hunger strikes launched in July.

All three men have suffered serious, potentially lasting, consequences to their health, including damage to their hearts, other organs and vision.

On Wednesday, the Palestinian Authority announced that Israel had agreed not to renew the men’s administrative detention orders after they completed their original terms.

Malik al-Qadi, who began refusing food on 16 July after he was arrested on 23 May, will be released on Thursday, completing his four month detention order.

Mahmoud and Muhammad Balboul, who launched their hunger strikes on 5 and 7 July respectively, will be released on 8 December.

The brothers were arrested on 9 June. Their release will come after spending six months in detention.

Administrative detention is Israel’s practice of detaining people indefinitely without charge or trial.


The end of the hunger strikes was celebrated by the men’s families.

The mothers of al-Qadi and the Balboul brothers spoke at a rally in Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank, expressing joy at the end of the hunger strikes and thanking political leaders and the public who had stood by their sons.

This video shows al-Qadi speaking from his hospital bed:

“My thanks go first to God. I thank everyone who helped, who stood by us. I thank the Palestinian people,” al-Qadi said, adding that he had difficulty finding the words to express his happiness.

Another video shows a smiling Muhammad Balboul breaking his strike with soup.

Weakening rights

Over the course of the last several weeks, during which al-Qadi and the Balboul brothers have gone without food for 68 to 79 days, Israel has made significant strides in weakening the rights of Palestinian prisoners and hunger strikers.

On 11 September, Israel’s high court upheld the law allowing force-feeding of hunger strikers, a practice considered to be torture by the Israeli Medical Association and world medical bodies.

The Israeli judges ruled that hunger strikers are not “ordinary” patients, but political actors. Soon after that ruling, the high court rejected a petition to release al-Qadi while he lay in a coma in an Israeli hospital and was reportedly being treated against his will.

Over the last year, since Israel’s parliament passed the force-feeding law, the high court has made more ambiguous rulings on other hunger strikers, avoiding outright rejection of their petitions for release while still upholding the Israeli military’s right to detain them.

In the case of Muhammad Allan, who spent 66 days on hunger strike, the court first postponed making a decision but eventually suspended his administrative detention, leading Allan to end his strike.

In the case of an unprecedentedly long hunger strike waged by Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq, the court “froze” his administrative detention order but refused to allow him to be treated in a Palestinian hospital.

Al-Qiq ultimately ended his strike through a negotiated agreement between Israeli authorities and the Palestinian Authority representatives.

As of August, there were 700 Palestinians in Israeli administrative detention.


Charlotte Silver

Charlotte Silver's picture

Charlotte Silver is an independent journalist and regular writer for The Electronic Intifada. She is based in Oakland, California and has reported from Palestine since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @CharESilver.