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February 19, 2013

Palestinians join hunger strike for Samer Issawi

Israel denies bail for Palestinian prisoner as hundreds jailed in Israel join solidarity fast.
Israeli prison service police surround Palestinian prisoner Samer al-Issawi, wearing handcuffs and leg-cuffs as he is brought in a wheelchair to a court room at the Magistrate's Court in Jerusalem, Israel, 19 February 2013. EPA/JIM HOLLANDER

An Israeli court denied bail for a Palestinian prisoner after calling for an emergency hearing to consider his case. The decision comes amid a 24-hour hunger strike in solidarity with Issawi and other hunger strikers held by at least 800 Palestinian prisoners detained by Israel.

Issawi has been refusing food for more than 200 days and his health has deteriorated rapidly since he began to refuse water. Under Israeli military policy a prisoner may be held indefinitely without trial or charge. The United Nations has called on Israel to end this policy, known as administrative detention, and immediately release or charge detainees.

Issawi's next court appearance is not due until mid-March. According to the Free Samer Issawi Campaign, his mother collapsed in court when she heard the court would not release her son.