Hana Shalabi begins Gaza exile

Ahram Online , Monday 2 Apr 2012

Palestinian woman Hana Shalabi starts exile in Gaza after ending 43-day hunger strike to protest her administrative detention by Israel; Rights groups condemn move as breach of Fourth Geneva Convention

Following a deal reached with Israeli authorities, Hana Shalabi is to be exiled to Gaza for three years. Shalabi ended her 43-day hunger strike Thursday.

Palestinian Authority Minister for Prisoner Affairs Issa Qaraqe had warned a week ago that immense pressure was being exerted on Shalabi, whose physical state had deteriorated dangerously, to force her to end the strike and make a deal with Israel.

Administrative detention allows Israeli authorities to detain Palestinians without charge or a fair trial. Prisoners often spend months, sometimes years, without knowing the reason for their confinement.

Al Jazeera reported a message Shalabi had passed to her lawyers after suspending her strike saying that her decision was taken under extreme pressure, leading her to accept difficult terms, such as being exiled in Gaza.

Shalabi passed through the Erez border into Gaza and was transported to a local hospital for tests, according to witnesses and Israeli officials.

A joint statement by the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel) expressed alarm at Shalabi's exile.

Both organisations "fear that, given her grave medical condition, restrictions on Ms Shalabi’s access to physicians and lawyers, in addition to the prevention of family visits, were used as methods of coercion. Furthermore, serious concerns exist regarding the availability and arrangement of adequate medical care matching Ms Shalabi’s urgent needs in light of her swift transfer," the statement read.

Expressing further concern that neither Shalabi nor her family would be allowed to visit Gaza; they said that "her expulsion could essentially become an extension of her previous isolation from her home and family while in prison."

Both groups believe the move is illegal under international law, violating Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, "which prohibits forcible transfers and deportations of protected persons."

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