Israeli prisons are not new for Palestinian Hana Al-Shalabi, 29 years old. She spent two years in administration detention without charge or trial and was released in the October 2011 in the prisoner exchange that freed Israeli solider, Gilad Shalit. On February 16, she was taken from her home in Jenin by the Israeli military where she and members of her family were beaten. At the prison, she was forcibly strip searched by a male solider. Today, she enters the 27th day of a hunger strike to protest her degrading treatment and the Israeli practice of administrative detention against Palestinians.
Al-Shalabi is the second Palestinian prisoner in recent weeks — the first being Khader Adnan, who ended his fast after 66 days — to go on hunger strike as a way to draw attention to Israel’s use of administrative detention and mistreatment of Palestinian prisoners.
Administrative detention procedures allows the Israeli military to hold Palestinians on secret evidence without charging them or allowing them to stand trial. Military law empowers military commanders to detain a Palestinian for up to six month renewable periods for any security concern. On or just before the expiry date, the detention order is frequently renewed. This process can, and often is, continued indefinitely.
More than 10,000 Palestinian women have been detained by the Israeli forces during the 43 years of the occupation. Women detainees report that they are sexually tortured. Addameer, a Palestinian prisoners rights group, states:
A frequent complaint expressed by many Palestinian women political prisoners is Israel’s routine and systematic practice of strip and body searching, a process by which almost all of their clothing is forcibly removed by Israeli soldiers, sometimes including their undergarments. During strip searches, female prisoners are often asked to squat while naked, and are frequently subjected to intrusive internal body searches...Hana's parents have been denied the right to visit their daughter and have joined her on her hunger strike. Her mother reports that Hana was just starting to reintegrate into her family and community after her two year detention when she was violently rearrested. In the video below, Hana's mother pleads for her daughter's release:
Sexual harassment of Palestinian women prisoners also occurs through threats of rape (including threats of rape of their family members) and sexually degrading insults made by prison personnel. These occurrences are a fundamental part of Palestinian women’s prison experience and should be understood as a common and systematic form of racial and gender-based State violence.
Hana's life is in danger as her hunger strike continues. She will continue to refuse food until her release. This visual shows the progressive damage to Hana's organs and body as she continues her protest.
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