Palestinian held by Israel ends hunger strike after 103 days


Ramallah (Reuters) – A Palestinian on Friday ended a 103-day hunger strike against his detention without charge by Israel after being assured his four-month detention would not be extended, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club said.

There was no immediate comment from Israeli authorities on whether they had offered any special assurances to Maher Al-Akhras, 49, who has been in an Israeli hospital suffering from heart pain and convulsions, according to his wife.

Akhras, a resident of the city of Jenin in the north of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, was taken into custody in July under an Israeli “administrative detention” order.

Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency says Akhras was detained after it received information that he was an operative of the Islamic Jihad militant group, an allegation his wife has denied.

He had vowed to continue to refuse solid food despite an October decision by Israel’s Supreme Court not to extend his detention beyond Nov. 26.

But after receiving what it called “a firm commitment (by Israel) not to renew his administrative detention … Maher Al-Akhras decided to end his hunger strike starting today, Friday Nov. 6,” the Palestinian Prisoners Club, which works on behalf of prisoners, said in a statement.

“He will spend the remaining period until his release receiving treatment in the hospital,” the statement added.

The Israel Prison Service referred questions to the Israeli military, which did not immediately provide comment.

There are around 5,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails, 350 of them under administrative detention, Palestinian officials said. Israeli officials say detention without trial is sometimes necessary to protect the identities of undercover operatives.

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