Palestinian Ends Hunger Strike After Israel Promises to Halt Administrative Detention

Jack Khoury
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Maher Akhras at Kaplan hospital in Rehovot with Arab community leaders, November 6, 2020
Maher Akhras at Kaplan hospital in Rehovot with Arab community leaders, November 6, 2020Credit:
Jack Khoury

Palestinian detainee Maher Akhras will end his hunger strike, which lasted 103 days, after Israel promised not to extend his administrative detention, announced the Chairman of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee Muhammad Baraka on Friday. 

Baraka added that Akhras, 49, who hails from the village of Silat ad-Dhahr near Nablus, will soon be transferred to a hospital in the West Bank after weeks at Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot.

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Baraka announced Akhras' decision live on Facebook from his hospital room, alongside several leaders of Israel's Arab community, including joint List MKs Ahmad Tibi and Ofer Cassif. 

Two weeks ago, Israel's High Court of Justice ruled to suspend Akhras' administrative detention. The justices ruled that if Akhras is released from the hospital, the remainder of his detention will be reconsidered, and the prosecution will need to make this announcement at least 48 hours in advance.

Administrative detention involves no indictment, no revelation of confidential evidence, and no trial or judgment of the accusations against the prisoner. Not even Ahras’ lawyers can see the full range of evidence and suspicions against her client, and these can be renewed every few months indefinitely.

On Friday, the justices issued an interim order preventing Akhras from being transferred from the hospital to an Israel Prison Service medical center, following an urgent petition against transferring him to the service's authority and against the renewal of his administrative detention. 

Akhras was issued a four-month administrative detention order on August 7. He was accused 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 Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on Israel to cease the practice of administrative detentions and to release Akhras immediately. "Recent visits to him by doctors indicate that his body is on the verge of collapse, and that some of the damage done to him may be permanent," said the Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian Territories. 

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