Longest Palestinian hunger strike ends in deal

A Palestinian held by Israel agreed to end his hunger strike after Israeli authorities promised to release him in April.

Ramallah: A Palestinian held without trial by Israel agreed Tuesday to end his 66-day hunger strike after Israeli authorities promised to release him in April in a deal that avoided judicial review of the detention policy.

"There is a deal. (Khader Adnan) will stop his hunger strike. They will not extend his administrative detention and he will be free on April 17," an Israeli Justice Ministry spokeswoman said.

Issa Qaraqe, the Palestinian minister of prisoner affairs, confirmed Adnan would be released on that date and end his hunger strike now.

Adnan, 33, has been refusing to eat since mid-December and doctors voiced fears about his deteriorating health.

Israel`s High Court, in light of the agreement, cancelled at the last minute a scheduled hearing of the Islamic Jihad member`s appeal against his imprisonment, avoiding a high-profile examination of the issue of detention without trial.

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 and information in trials.

Human rights groups have condemned the measure and the European Union`s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, issued a statement Saturday saying she was following Adnan`s case with "great concern."

She reiterated "the EU`s long-standing concern about the extensive use by Israel of administrative detention without formal charge."

West Bank officials said Adnan`s hunger strike was the longest staged by a Palestinian detainee and his Jihadist supporters had warned of violent reprisals against Israel if he died.

Adnan`s case had put a spotlight on Israel`s so-called "administrative detention" that enables it to hold suspects without trial or charge indefinitely. A local rights group, al Haq, said 315 Palestinians were being detained under the edict.

The Israeli army has said in a statement he was arrested "for activities that threaten regional security," but it did not elaborate.

Bureau Report

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