Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Palestinian prisoner “on the verge of death” after 80-day hunger strike

By The Palestine Monitor - October 13, 2020
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [prisoner release] [Hunger Strike] [Human rights]

Human rights groups have warned a Palestinian prisoner is “on the verge of death” after sustaining an 80-day hunger strike since his arrest near Nablus on 27 July.

Husband and father of six, Maher al-Akhras, 49, has been placed under “administrative detention”, a procedure in which Israeli forces can indefinitely keep prisoners without trial. 

Al-Akhras is currently hospitalised in Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot, south of Tel Aviv in the centre of the country, where he has refused all medical treatment and is only accepting water.

“My death would be a murder by the occupation,” al-Akhras said in a video from his hospital bed earlier this month.

“It is not in my hands. Israel has the power to release or detain,” al-Akhras said, stating that he will continue to refuse food and negotiations with authorities.

Al-Akhras’s lawyer, Ahlam Haddad told local news that al-Akhras’ condition was deteriorating, stating his doctor said he is suffering from “muscular atrophy in his hands and feet, as well as degeneration in the brain.”

Israeli authorities claim al-Akhras is a “prominent operative in Islamic Jihad,” a claim al-Akhras denies outright. 

Public support for Al-Akhras has spread across the occupied West Bank with around 40 people rallying in the defacto-capital city of Ramallah on Monday.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohommad Shytayyeh has also demanded al-Akhras’ “immediate release” according to the official WAFA news agency. 

Israel’s High Court deferred al-Akhras release at a hearing on Monday, saying the case remained under review, according to a summary of the hearing seen by AFP news agency. 

According to +972Mag, the High Court insists that despite al-Akhras severe health deterioration, he end his hunger strike before being released from administrative detention.

Harking back to British colonial rule, administrative detention is a procedure under which a person is deprived their right to a fair trial, forced to disprove classified evidence neither the detainee nor their defence lawyers can review. Detention can also arbitrarily extended, sometimes lasting up to years without charge.

According to B’Tselem, as of late August, Israel is currently holding 355 Palestinians in administrative detention, including two minors. Under international law, administrative detention should only be used in the most extreme cases. 

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