Supreme Court Rejects Hunger Strikers' Appeal

The Supreme Court has backed the government, saying it does not have to release terrorists who choose not to eat while incarcerated.

Gabe Kahn ,

Israel's Supreme Court
Israel's Supreme Court
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal by two hunger-striking security prisoners from Palestinian Authority enclaves demanding their release.

Thaer Halahla and Bilal Diab, described by the court as active members of the Islamic Jihad terror group, have been refusing food for 70 days in protest of their incarceration under Israel's "administrative detention" laws.

Around 1,550 Arab security prisoners in Israeli jails have been hunger-striking for three weeks in a protest against the detentions, wide denial of family visits, and solitary confinement.

Lawyers and rights activists in PA enclaves derided the Supreme Court as being "a tood of the Israeli intelligence services" and as having "issued a death sentence."

In the ruling, the Supreme Court advised security officials to consider freeing the men for medical reasons, but nonetheless backed the government's right tol hold them.

Halahla and Diab began their hunger strike shortly after the State Prosecutor decided to release fellow Islamic Jihad terrorist Khader Adnan after he appealed to the Supreme Court.

Adnan went 66 days without food and only agreed to end his strike after Israel agreed not to renew his detention beyond the original order.

Touted as an innocent victim falsely incarcerated by Israel, a video later surfaced in which Adnan pleaded for prospective suicide bombers to “carry the next explosive belt.”

The decision to release him was widely criticized as "opening the floodgates" to more hunger-strike challenges by prisoners with reason to believe Israeli officials would capitulate.

Both men, who security officials say are members of Islamic Jihad like Adnan, have been held at Ramle prison since August 2011.

There arrests came as the IDF and Israel's General Security Services began a full court press to crackdown on terror cells in Judea and Samaria last summer.

The Supreme Court's ruling effectively upholds the decision by the IDF magistrate who heard the two men's initial appeal that they were "responsible for their own state of health."

The World Medical Association maintains hunger-striking prisoners who have made a rational decision to refuse sustenance should be allowed to continue their strike.

In 1975 the organization resolved, "Where a prisoner refuses nourishment and is considered by the physician as capable of forming an unimpaired and rational judgment concerning the consequences of such a voluntary refusal of nourishment, he or she shall not be fed artificially."

"The decision as to the capacity of the prisoner to form such a judgment should be confirmed by at least one other independent physician. The consequences of the refusal of nourishment shall be explained by the physician to the prisoner," the WMA maintains.

Under Israel's administrative detention laws security officials may seek a court order to detain an individual without charge if they are suspected of being a threat to national security.

Such orders can be appealed to a higher court, and must be reviewed by the court every six months. Israel's Supreme Court is the final court of appeal.

Israeli officials have a strict policy of not discussing intelligence matters in public and evidentiary hearings on the basis of the men's detention have been held in closed court.

In late January, the GSS and Israel Police foiled a shooting attack planned by an Israeli Arab in collaboration with an Islamic Jihad terror cell from Tulkarem in northern Samaria.

Last August, Islamic Jihad terrorists from Gaza were involved in the deadly cross-border ambush of an Israeli civilian bus that left 8 Israelis – 7 of them civilians – dead.

Islamic Jihad leaders in Gaza  – whose terror cells are heavily involved in rocket attacks on Israel's southern communities – have been targeted with airstrikes rather than arrest and detention.

On two separate occasions within the last month, terrorists associated with Islamic Jihad have been arrested attempting to smuggle pipe-bombs, firearms, knives, and ammunition into Israel.

In the last two months, there have been numerous attempts by Islamic Jihad and Hamas to smuggle firearms, ammunition, and pipe-bombs through checkpoints Samaria.