Palestinian Hunger Striker Transferred to Israeli Prison Service's Medical Center

Maher Akhras, hunger striking for 90 days over his administrative detention, released from public hospital after refusing treatment ■ NGO concerned he may be fed by force

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Palestinian hunger striker Maher Akhras at Kaplan Hospital, Rehovot, on September 29, 2020.
Palestinian hunger striker Maher Akhras at Kaplan Hospital, Rehovot, on September 29, 2020.Credit: Moti Milrod
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Palestinian hunger striker Maher Akhras will be transferred to the prison service's medical center on Friday after being released from Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot.

Akhras has refused to eat for some 90 days in protest of his administrative detention. He was released from Kaplan because of his refusal to receive any medical treatment, and because his many visitors endanger others in the hospital in light of the coronavirus pandemic, according to his lawyer Ahlam Haddad.

His administrative detention was renewed after his release, after having been suspended following his hospitalization in recent weeks, due to his deteriorated condition during his hunger strike. The hospital said that they "acted on medical considerations only, and in accordance with the decisions of the competent authorities."

Physicians for Human Rights said in a statement that the transfer to the prison service hospital endangered Akhras's life, as it cannot supervise him to the extent that a public hospital can. Given his fragile condition, the group said, there is a large chance that the prison service will not be able to transfer him to a hospital with the required capabilities in time. "Furthermore, there is a concern that what the Kaplan doctors refused to do – forced treatment/feeding – they will be willing to do" at the new hospital, the statement added.

Akhras, 49, is from the village of Silat ad-Dhahr, which is located north of Nablus. He was issued a four-month administrative detention order on August 7. Akhras was accused, based on secret intelligence, of being a prominent member of Islamic Jihad, “who is involved in activity that endangers security in the area, incites and makes extremist statements.” He denied these accusations during his interrogation.

The High Court of Justice denied for the second time a petition to release him earlier this month. The court proposed that Akhras end his hunger strike in exchange for the administrative detention order against him not being renewed when it expires on November 26. 

This offer, however, included a condition that his detention could be renewed should new information arise. Akhras rejected the High Court’s proposal and said he would continue his strike until he was released to his home. 

Earlier this month, the state claimed in a closed-door High Court session that Akhras had been recorded boasting about being a member in militant Islamic Jihad organization, despite the transcript showing that he did not.

Also this month, Islamic Jihad in Gaza warned that understandings between the Palestinian group and Israel would be gravely harmed if Israel did not release Akhras.

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