Longest Palestinian hunger strike ends in deal (REUTERS) By Jihan Abdalla RAMALLAH, West Bank 02/21/12 1:38pm EST)
Reuters News Service
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(Reuters) - A Palestinian held without trial ended a 66-day hunger
strike Tuesday after Israeli authorities promised to release him in
April in a deal that avoided judicial review of its detention policy.
Khader Adnan, a 33-year-old member of the militant group Islamic
Jihad, had been refusing food since mid-December and doctors had
voiced fears about his deteriorating health.
"There is a deal," a spokeswoman for Israel´s Justice Ministry
said. "They will not extend his administrative detention and he will
be free on April 17."
The Israeli hospital tending to Adnan said he had begun intravenous
feeding and would be examined later Tuesday to determine whether he
could take food by mouth.
Supporters of Adnan welcomed the deal as a symbolic victory over
Israeli occupation of the West Bank and handed out candy in the
streets of its administrative capital, Ramallah.
"He got all the world to stand in solidarity with the detainees
through his heroic strike," said a neighbor, Mohammed Jaber. "He won
against Israel and scored an achievement for Palestinian detainees."
Human rights activists said the outcome would not change Israel´s
practice of "administrative detention" which allows it to hold
Concern had been mounting that Adnan was on his deathbed, raising the
prospect of a violent backlash against Israel.
Student blogger Jalal Abu Khater said that by Day 50 of the hunger
strike the story "exploded especially on Twitter and Facebook" and
followers numbered Adnan´s days without food.
But there were few demonstrations of support for him in the West
Bank, bloggers say, because Adnan is with Islamic Jihad and not
Fatah, the secular, mainstream Palestinian movement.
A Reuters photographer who managed to enter Adnan´s hospital room
Tuesday saw him sitting up on his bed looking around, apparently
fully aware and talking with his lawyer.
Hundreds of Palestinians cheered at a news conference held outside
Adnan´s village home by lawyer Jawad Boulos.
"Khader confounded the Israeli court and security systems and forced
the attorney´s office to agree to the deal we proposed," Boulos
said. "His hunger strike was launched to achieve freedom and not to
West Bank officials said Adnan´s hunger strike was the longest staged
by a Palestinian detainee. Jihadist supporters had warned of violent
reprisals against Israel if he died.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman decried the deal.
"There was a wrongful decision today, to release this Jihad
activist," Lieberman said, calling Adnan a "terrorist."
Israel has not accused Adnan of direct involvement in attacks by
Islamic Jihad, which is sworn to the Jewish state´s destruction.
He was not charged with any crime. The reasons for his detention were
kept secret, other than a brief Israeli army statement saying he was
arrested on December 17 for "activities that threaten regional
As the deal for his release was announced, Israel´s High Court
cancelled at the last minute an appeal hearing, avoiding a high-
profile examination of the controversial practice of detention
The court has upheld the procedure for decades, siding with the
government´s argument that detention without trial is a necessary
security measure that can be used to avoid exposing confidential
information in trials.
The European Union´s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, issued a
statement Saturday repeating "the EU´s long-standing concern about
the extensive use by Israel of administrative detention without
Ayman Karaja of the Palestinian Addameer Prisoner Support and Human
Rights Association said Israel was currently holding 310 Palestinians
without trial. Some were detained under the measure even after
serving prison terms of several years.
"The end of Khader Adnan´s case, regardless of the outcome, obviously
will not end Israel´s policy of administrative detention because it
is part of Israel´s bigger policy of punishing the Palestinian
detainees," Karaja said.
(Additional reporting by Ali Sawafta, Allyn Fisher-Ilan and Maayan
Lubell; Writing by Douglas Hamilton; Editing by Robin Pomeroy) (©
Thomson Reuters 2012. 02/21/12)
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