Israel high court hears hunger striker appeals

AFP , Thursday 3 May 2012

Palestinian hunger strikers appeal illegality of their arbitrary detention; presiding judge says court will make a decision at an unspecified time after reviewing 'secret file'

Two Palestinians who have been on hunger strike for 65 days appeared before Israel's Supreme Court on Thursday to appeal their detention without charge, their lawyer told AFP.

Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahla are both staging hunger strikes to protest Israel's use of administrative detention orders, under which military courts can order individuals to be held without charge for periods of up to six months, which can be renewed indefinitely.

Jamil Khatib, who is representing both men, said his address to the court focused on what he called the "illegality" of administrative detention.

"The appeal focused on two sides, the illegality of administrative detention in general, in terms of why they are being held, and secondly why Thaer and Bilal took this step to shed light on administrative detention," Khatib said.

He said Halahla addressed the session, speaking "about his arrest and the violations that were committed against him and why he decided to go through with his hunger strike."

"He spoke about his right to a good life and his right to see his daughter, who was born while he was in administrative detention," Khatib added.

It was unclear when the court would issue a ruling on the appeal.

Judge Amnon Rubenstein "announced that the panel of judges would make a decision after reviewing the 'secret file,'" prisoner rights group Ad-Dameer said in a statement.

"But after the review (he) stated that the parties would be informed at a later time, without specifying when."

Halahla, 34, was arrested on 28 June 2010 and has been held under administrative detention orders ever since. Diab has been held since 17 August, 2011 and both men began refusing food on 29 February.

Short link: