Palestinian detainee Maher al-Akhras ended his hunger strike, which lasted 103 days, after security services promised not to extend his administrative detention. Al-Akhras’s decision was first announced by the Chairman of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee in Israel and leading Communist Party member, Mohammad Barakeh on Friday, November 6.
Barakeh added that al-Akhras, 49, who hails from the village of Silat ad-Dhahr near Nablus in the occupied West Bank, would soon be transferred to a hospital in the West Bank after weeks at Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot. “Maher al-Akhras has announced that he ended his hunger strike on its 103rd day due to a commitment that he will be freed on November 26th and that his administrative detention will not be renewed,” Barakeh said.
According to Hadash MK Ofer Cassif (Joint List), “Maher announced that he will end his hunger strike, based on the promise that he will be released at the end of the month and will not be re-arrested as soon as his condition improves.” Cassif added that he wished the detainee a speedy recovery. Joint List MKs Cassif, Osama Saadi, Ahmad Tibi, Waleed Taha and former Hadash MK Barakeh crowded around al-Akhras’s bed on Friday evening to wish him well at the end of his hunger strike.
The High Follow-Up Committee held a demonstration in solidarity with the prisoner last Tuesday, November 3, for Arab citizens of Israel and Joint List MKs outside of Kaplan Hospital to call for his release. During the previous weekend, MK Cassif even briefly joined al-Akhras’s hunger strike when the detainee was denied family visitation rights two weeks ago.
Last month, al-Akhras’s attorney and Israeli human rights organizations involved in his case continually warned that al-Akhras would be in serious medical danger should his hunger strike continue. The Palestinian Prisoners’ Commission said in a statement on Sunday, November 1, that al-Akhras’s health had severely deteriorated over the past few days, and he had begun to lose his sight and hearing due to the damage caused by his self-imposed starvation. Physicians for Human Rights warned that even if he ended his fast, the damage to Akhras’s vital organs could be permanent. The International Committee for the Red Cross urged Israeli authorities “to find a solution that will avoid any loss of life.” Head of the ICRC health department in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories Yves Giebens said that his organization had been closely monitoring the situation. “From a medical perspective, he is entering a critical phase,” Giebens had said.
As of August this year, about 355 Palestinians, including two minors, were being held under administrative detention orders, according to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem. According to the Palestinian prisoner support organization Addameer, as of September Israel held in custody 4,400 Palestinian political prisoners, including 39 female and 155 children.