Last Updated: Thu Apr 19, 2012 15:16 pm (KSA) 12:16 pm (GMT)

Israel frees hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner

Palestinians have long been protesting against Israel’s detention of prisoners without charges. (Reuters)
Palestinians have long been protesting against Israel’s detention of prisoners without charges. (Reuters)

Israel has released a hunger-striking Palestinian detainee who spent nearly four years in prison without being charged, his family and the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club said on Thursday.

Ahmed Saqer, who comes from Askar refugee camp in the northern city of Nablus, spent 43 months in administrative detention, his brother Ali told AFP.

Administrative detention is an antiquated procedure under which prisoners can be held without charge for periods of up to six months, which can be renewed indefinitely.

Saqer’s current detention was due to end, or be renewed on April 24, and fearing it would be extended once again, he began a hunger strike nearly five weeks ago, his brother said.

But, after 32 days of refusing food, he was released ─ five days early.

“Israel freed Ahmed Saqer after he spent 32 days on hunger strike to protest against the extension of his detention,” said a statement from Addameer, a Palestinian NGO which supports the prisoners.

The Palestinian Prisoner Club also confirmed Saqer’s release and said he had previously spent six years in administrative detention in Israeli prisons before this latest stint.

There are currently 11 prisoners who have been on hunger strike for an extended period, with two of them now entering their 52nd day without food, despite a rapid deterioration in their health.

Most of them are protesting against their being held in administrative detention.

On Tuesday, another 1,200 prisoners announced they were starting an open-ended hunger strike to protest against the conditions in which they are being held.

Refusing food has become an increasingly popular form of protest since the landmark strike undertaken by an Islamic Jihad prisoner called Khader Adnan, who went 66 days without food in a move which turned him into a national hero.

He was released on Tuesday evening as the Palestinians were marking Prisoners’ Day.

There are 4,699 Palestinians being held in Israeli jails, of whom 319 are in administrative detention, according to Prisoners’ Club figures.

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