Palestinian prisoner ends hunger strike in victory

Palestinian prisoner ends hunger strike in victory

Palestinian prisoner ends hunger strike in victory

Maali, daughter of Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan, takes part in a demonstration in support of her father, who has been on hunger strike for two months, during a protest. AFP photo

A Palestinian prisoner yesterday agreed to end a two-month hunger strike, after reaching a deal with Israel that will free him in April, the Israeli Justice Ministry has announced.

The agreement ended a tense standoff that had drawn attention to the controversial Israeli policy of holding suspected Palestinian militants without charge.

Under the deal, Khader Adnan, a 33-year-old member of the Islamic Jihad militant group, agreed to resume eating immediately, the Justice Ministry said. The statement said that if “no new additional substantial evidence” emerges against Adnan, he will be released on April 17, when the current, four-month detention order is to expire. Adnan’s wife, Randa Mussa, hailed the deal as a “victory” for her husband, who medics say has lost more than 40 percent of his body weight over the past nine weeks. Adnan was detained Dec. 17, and began refusing food a day later to protest his detention without charge and his alleged mistreatment by interrogators.

Israeli officials described Adnan as a “terrorist” from the radical Islamic Jihad movement, although he has never been charged with any offence, nor has any evidence against him been made public. His protest, already the longest hunger strike carried out by any Palestinian prisoner, has attracted international attention and thrown a spotlight on Israel’s use of administrative detention, a military procedure which allows suspects to be held without charge. The E.U. and U.N. had urged Israel to give Adnan a trial promptly.

309 Palestinans in prison without charge
Yesterday’s compromise was announced in light of concerns for Adnan’s health. He has been held in an Israeli hospital for several weeks because of his condition.

Doctors from Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, who met with Adnan in recent days, had warned that his health was failing and that he faced “immediate danger of death” if he continued to refuse food. His case has sparked demonstrations across the Palestinian territories, with thousands of people taking part in protests on Tuesday in the West Bank cities of Nablus, Jenin, Hebron and Ramallah.

Palestinian officials warned that Adnan’s death in custody could spark a violent backlash, and a spokeswoman for the Israel Prisons Service said they were aware of the “implications” of such a development.

According to the figures received from the Israel Prison Service (IPS), Israel is currently holding 309 Palestinians in prison without charge, an Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem, said yesterday.

Compiled from AFP, AP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.