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Dying for Justice

Hana al-ShalabiOn March 20, Hana's 34th hunger strike day began. The previous day, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) said she's in imminent danger of dying.

After examining her, its doctor "determined that she must be hospitalized immediately."

Wrongfully arrested, abused, uncharged, and administratively detained at HaSharon Prison, she's hunger struck over a month for justice. Israel doesn't care if she lives or dies.

On March 19, PHR-I's doctor explained her condition. She risks imminent death because of significant physical deterioration.

The process includes "muscle breakdown, with a weight loss of 14 kg (31 lb.) since the onset of the hunger strike, a very slow pulse, and a drop in blood sodium levels. These symptoms could indicate grave damage to the heart and the beginning of the breakdown of the heart muscle, which could lead to heart failure at any moment."

With a body temperature of 95.09 degrees Fahrenheit, she's hypothermic. It means body energy gets directed mainly to essential organs. It also indicates possible heart damage. It suggests arrhythmia (irregular heart beat), systemic deterioration, and possible sudden death.

In addition, Hana won't take prison medications or let a prison doctor examine her. She's also not ambulatory without help, and exhibits "significant weakness, low blood pressure, serious pain throughout her body, significant sensitivity in her upper abdominal region, and serious dizziness."

March 14 blood tests show abnormally low glucose and sodium levels, as well as thyroid damage. "The thyroid plays a critical role in maintaining body temperature, as well as heart, liver, and brain function. Significant damage to the thyroid gland could lead to a coma...." Hana's in grave danger of slipping into one and dying.

March 19 blood tests indicated clotting disruption and significantly low vitamin and iron levels. After examining her, PHR-I's doctor said her life's in imminent danger. As a result, he urged immediate hospitalization.

Israel's Prison Service sent her to Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba. Palestinian Minister of Detainees, Issa Qaraqe, noted her grave condition. He added that she won't ingest liquids or medications except with a PHR-I doctor present.

Qaraqe holds Israel responsible. He appealed to human rights groups to help save her. Hana demands simple justice: freedom or death.

PHR-I condemned Hana's treatment and Israel's contempt for human life. Besides abuse including solitary confinement, PHR-I was denied regular access. When Hana requested its doctor, Prison Service officials ignored her.

In addition, she's been unethically pressured to begin eating. "This clearly violates the principles of medical ethics." Moreover, prison authorities conveyed a different assessment of her condition than PHR-I determined. In other words, they don't give a damn if she dies.

Possible force-feeding also remains possible. Prison Service Ethics Committee members are considering it, despite international treaty prohibitions. Hana told PHR-I's doctor that prison officials may be trying to undermine her faith in his competence "by presenting her with incorrect information."

PHR-I called on local and international communities "to act immediately and intervene for the release of Shalabi, and to act to end Israel’s use of administrative detention."

In solidarity, dozens of Palestinian prisoners are hunger striking supportively. According to the Addameer prisoner support and human rights group, Kifah Hattab's refused food for three weeks and Bilal Diab for 20 days.

On March 14, Al-Hajj Ali joined them. Others do also daily for Hana and to express outrage about wrongful detention and abusive treatment.

Rejecting military judicial legitimacy, 70 or more prisoners announced boycotts, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Club (PPC). They refuse to attend kangaroo-style proceedings, and no wonder.

With rare exceptions, virtually everyone's convicted. Rigged proceedings use secret evidence unavailable to counsel or none at all. Guilt by accusation is policy.

Protesting for Hana's release, Israeli security forces attacked dozens of women with tear gas, rubber bullets, and water cannons. On March 8, marking International Women's Day, hundreds of Palestinian women rallied supportively for her.

On March 20, a second judicial administrative hearing will be held. According to attorney Jawad Boulos, it's "useless," because Israel refuses to free Hana.

Nonetheless, he requested it to force the issue one way or another. A further hearing will be held to rule on her case. Frustrated, Boulos denounced the court's "procrastination over making a decision."

In the meantime, Hana's dying. Perhaps the court hopes quickly to avoid a certain controversial ruling.

In Israeli military courts, injustice is policy, even on matters of life and death. That's how police states operate!


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