Palestinian women hold up a portrait of Hana al-Shalabi during a demonstration to demand her release on March 8, 2012.
AFP/Getty Images
Palestinian women hold up a portrait of Hana al-Shalabi during a demonstration to demand her release on March 8, 2012.

Story highlights

Hana Shalabi had been held and released previously

Taken into custody again February 23 as a result of intelligence, officials said

She is on hunger strike protesting "administrative detention," lawyers said

She has been transferred to an Israeli hospital

CNN —  

A female Palestinian prisoner is in an Israeli military hospital after a hunger strike protesting her “administrative detention,” attorneys for her and a Palestinian official say.

Hana Shalabi, who had been held and released previously, was taken into custody again on February 23 “as a result of intelligence reports indicating that she had resumed terrorist activity,” the Israeli military said.

She was transferred to the hospital Sunday evening, said lawyers for Shalabi and the Palestinian minister for prisoner affairs and detainees, Issa Qaraqe. They said she was taken into custody on February 16 and was in the 34th day of her hunger strike.

Jawad Bulos, a lawyer from the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club Association who is representing Shalabi, told CNN Tuesday that she is weak, but is continuing with her hunger strike.

Shalabi is protesting “administrative detention,” a controversial practice that allows the authorities to detain people indefinitely.

“This is a form of detention without charge or trial,” said Addameer, a Palestinian organization that deals with Palestinian prisoner support and human rights. Detainees are arrested under the authority of a military order that allows military commanders to detain an individual for up to six months if they have “reasonable grounds to presume that the security of the area or public security require the detention,” Addameer said.

“On or just before the expiry date, the detention order is frequently renewed. This process can be continued indefinitely,” it said.

The Israeli military’s statement said that military courts approved Shalbi’s detention “on the grounds that there was current and reliable information that Shalabi posed a specific and concrete threat, and that there was no alternative criminal procedure available to address this threat.”

Her attorneys say Shalabi has said she was beaten, abused, blindfolded and interrogated, and placed in solitary confinement for the first week of her arrest.

Bulos said Shalabi had “lost almost 16 kilos (35 pounds) of her body weight.”

“She is in the hospital prison ward by herself, only drinking water and being subjected to a psychological game, being told she is not like Khader Adnan, and no one will hear her case.”

Khader Adnan is a Palestinian detainee who ended his 66-day hunger strike in February after the Israeli government announced that his sentence had been commuted and would not be renewed. He was told he would be freed in April “as long as no new significant material was presented against him,” Israel’s justice minister said last month.

Bulos told CNN that the prosecution and defense teams in Shalabi’s case met with the military judge Tuesday to look into an appeal. A decision could come as early as next week to either accept the defense appeal for her immediate release or to keep the detention order, he said.

Mahmoud Hassan, another lawyer representing Shalabi, told CNN, “The detainees consider these military courts unjust and the last resort of any detainee to fight the administrative detention policy, is to go through hunger strike and this is a dangerous thing.”

The Palestinian Authority has called for her immediate release and called for international intervention in the case.

“Hana is fighting for her dignity,” Salam Fayad, the Palestinian prime minister, said in a statement during a meeting with Hana’s parents in his Ramallah office.

Mustafa Barghouti, an independent Palestinian lawmaker told CNN that a hunger strike is a nonviolent method of resistance and effective in fighting administrative detention. He spoke during a protest in support of Shalabi in front of Ofer military prison in the West Bank.

“What you see in Palestine is adoption of nonviolent resistance which is becoming dominant and accepted by all people and we are proud of that and will continue until all our prisoners are free,” he said.

According to B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, 307 Palestinians were under administrative detention at the end of 2011. That was a 40% increase in the number of detentions from a year earlier, the group said.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, last month expressed “the EU’s long-standing concern about the extensive use by Israel of administrative detention without formal charge.”

Hana was released in October 2011 after spending two years in administrative detention. She was among more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners released from Israeli jails in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev told CNN, “she is being held under administrative detention, she has been brought in front of a judge who ruled that she presents a danger. She is an activist in Islamic Jihad, an extreme terrorist organization and the judges ruled that incarceration can continue.”

“Different democracies have similar procedure to administrative detention in dealing with terrorist suspects not only Israel has this procedure,” Regev added.

Islamic jihad, an Iranian-backed militant group, has been blamed for suicide bombings in Israel that have killed dozens. Both the United States and the European Union consider the group a terrorist organization.