Hunger strike protester to be freed
A Palestinian held without charges by Israel for the past year is ending a 55-day hunger strike and in exchange will be released in two weeks, his wife and an advocacy group for prisoners said today.
Rights groups have warned that Khader Adnan, 36, a senior activist in the militant Islamic Jihad group, is near death. His wife Randa said today, after visiting her husband in an Israeli hospital, that he lost a lot of weight and "looked like a small child". She said he was unable to hold their 15-month-old son.
Sivan Weizman of Israel's prison authority confirmed that Adnan agreed to end his hunger strike as part of a deal, but had no details. The Israeli military, which would be involved in any agreement to release him, had no comment.
It marked the second hunger strike for Adnan whose protests have trained a spotlight on so-called administrative detention, a practice under which Israel holds Palestinians without trial or charges.
In a previous stint in administrative detention in 2012, Adnan went on a 66-day fast to press for his freedom, sparking weeks-long hunger strikes by hundreds of Palestinian detainees.
Under a deal reached late yesterday, Adnan ends his hunger strike and will be released on July 12, said Kadoura Fares of the Palestinian Prisoners' Club, an advocacy group.
Islamic Jihad is a group that has been responsible for deadly attacks on Israelis. Last July, Adnan was given six months of administrative detention, followed by a four-month extension. When he received another four-month extension, he launched his hunger strike.
Israel says administrative detentions are an important tool against Palestinian militants. The Israeli rights group B'Tselem says Israel's large-scale use of the practice violates international law which only permits it only in rare cases.
At the end of April, Israel held about 5,500 Palestinian security prisoners, including 396 in administrative detention, according to B'Tselem, which publishes official figures.
After a drop in 2012, following the mass hunger strike, the number has been rising again over the past year to monthly levels ranging from 363 to 473 administrative detainees.