A deal that led to Palestinian Hana Shalabi halting her hunger strike and facing transfer to the Gaza Strip for a three year period could amount to a forcible deportation, Amnesty International said.
Shalabi, 30, was arrested by Israeli troops last month in the West Bank and has been held under administrative detention. She is allegedly affiliated with the Islamic Jihad movement but has never been charged with a criminal offence.
She spent 43 days on hunger strike and suffers from impaired thyroid functions, weakness and dizziness, according to Physicians for Human Rights Israel. Despite halting her hunger strike, she continues to require specialised medical care.
“The fact that Hana Shalabi was denied access to her independent lawyers raises serious concerns about her deportation to the Gaza Strip,” said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“Amnesty International fears the deal may amount to a forcible deportation given her medical condition and the denial of access to independent doctors and lawyers.”
“Instead of deporting her to the Gaza Strip, where access to specialized medical care is limited, due to the Israeli blockade and the ongoing fuel crisis which threatens hospitals, she should be released along with other Palestinians held in administrative detention, or promptly charged with a recognizable criminal offence.”
Israeli military orders allow the authorities to detain Palestinians from the occupied West Bank indefinitely and without trial under administrative detention if they are deemed to pose a “security threat”.
Hana Shalabi is currently being held at Ramleh Prison Hospital in central Israel and the date of her move to the Gaza Strip has not been made public.
Her lawyer Jameel Khatib described her deportation as “forced” and told Amnesty International:
"I was not part of any negotiations; I am against these types of deals. There was no need to go through the whole hunger strike if at the end there will be deportation to Gaza. If that was our goal we could have struck a deal long time ago before Hana reaches this level of danger to her life.
However, Palestinian Prisoners' Society lawyer Jawad Boulos who negotiated the deportation deal, says Hana Shalabi voluntarily accepted the agreement.
More than 30 other Palestinian detainees and prisoners held in several Israeli prisons have declared open-ended hunger strikes against the policy of administrative detention, some for more than four weeks.
Among them are three men who have been on hunger strike for around 30 days. Tha'er Halahleh, Bilal Diab, and Kifah Hattab have been denied access to independent lawyers and doctors.
Despite their poor health, none has been granted access to independent doctors. Bilal Diab has been transferred to Assaf HaRofeh hospital in Tel Aviv after he apparently lost consciousness, where he remains under prison guard.
“There is a real risk that Hana Shalabi’s deportation could mean that other administrative detainees may be pressured to agree to similar deals and be coerced into agreeing to be deported to the Gaza Strip, “ said Ann Harrison.
“Once there, they would be cut off from any contact with their families in the West Bank, making their lives increasingly isolated.”
While the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip are internationally recognised as a single territorial unit under the Oslo Accords and international humanitarian law, the Israeli authorities do not allow Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip access to the West Bank or vice versa.
The Geneva Conventions prohibit an occupying power from forcibly transferring or deporting people from an occupied territory.
This story was amended on 30 March 2012 to correct an error in the first paragraph.