Israel frees Palestinian who waged 103-day hunger strike

Maher Al-Akhras, 49, a Palestinian who began a hunger strike against his detention without charge by Israel, lies in a hospital bed in Rehovot, Israel October 13, 2020. (Reuters)

Israel on Thursday released a Palestinian who waged a 103-day hunger strike to protest Israeli rules allowing his detention without charge, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club said.

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Maher al-Akhras, arrested over alleged membership of a militia group, was transferred from a Tel Aviv hospital to Nablus’s Al-Najah University Hospital in the occupied West Bank, the prisoners’ rights group said in a statement.

A decision on releasing him to return home will follow “a medical assessment of his condition,” Al-Najah hospital medical director Abdul-Karim Al-Barqawi said.

Akhras, 49, was arrested near Nablus in July and put in administrative detention, a policy that Israel uses to hold suspected militants without charge.

He is suspected of links to the armed Palestinian group Islamic Jihad, labeled a terrorist group by Israel, the US, and the European Union.

Israeli left-wing activists lift placards during a demonstration calling for the release of Palestinian administrative detainees, including Maher al-Akhras in front of Kaplan medical center in the central city of Rehovot, October 11, 2020. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

Israeli left-wing activists lift placards during a demonstration calling for the release of Palestinian administrative detainees, including Maher al-Akhras in front of Kaplan medical center in the central city of Rehovot, October 11, 2020. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

The father of six launched his fast to protest a four-month detention order, which had been due to end on November 26.

Akhras, who been arrested by Israel several times previously, ended his hunger strike after Israeli authorities committed to not extending his detention beyond that date.

Israel’s administrative detention policy, inherited from the British mandate of Palestine, allows the internment of prisoners without charge for renewable periods of up to six months each time.

Israel says the procedure allows authorities to hold suspects and prevent attacks while continuing to gather evidence, but critics and rights groups say the system is abused.

Around 355 Palestinians were being held under administrative detention orders as of August, including two minors, according to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.

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Last Update: Thursday, 26 November 2020 KSA 13:22 - GMT 10:22
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