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Palestinian prisoner freed after 65 days on hunger strike against administrative detention

A Palestinian prisoner is finally released from Israeli custody and transferred to hospital after a 65-day hunger strike to protest the so-called administrative detention, which allows prisoners to be held without charge or trial.

Amjad al-Najjar, a spokesman for the Palestinian Prisoners Club, said 28-year-old Ghadanfar Abu Atwan, who has been described as “clinging to life”, was transferred to hospital in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah after being released Thursday.

Lawyer Jawad Boulos had earlier in the day said that his client’s condition had deteriorated in recent days, requesting that Abu Atwan be moved from Israel’s Kaplan Hospital to a Palestinian facility, given his life-threatening condition. 

The 28-year-old Palestinian man was arrested last October and placed under administrative detention for six months. The order was extended for an additional six months, according to the official Palestinian Wafa news agency. 

In protest, Abu Atwan began an open-ended hunger strike on May 5 at Ramon prison, whereupon he was placed in solitary confinement for a fortnight.

He was later subjected to physical assaults, beatings, and injuries without any regard to his poor medical condition.

His medical condition has rapidly deteriorated since then, and he requires urgent medical intervention.

On July 4, he began refusing to drink water after Israeli military courts turned down the appeal to end his arbitrary administrative detention.

Medical records dated July 7 described Abu Atwan as “noticeably weak, almost unable to speak” and unable to move his lower limbs.

“Now he looks like a ghost of himself,” his mother Majdoleen said after visiting him last week.

“His cheeks are hollow, his body is so frail, he can barely speak, he can’t walk or even move,” she said.

Abu Atwan has spent nearly seven years of his life since the age of 19 in Israeli detention, having been arrested and imprisoned by Israel four times. Three of his four detentions, including the latest imprisonment, were administrative detention sentences and amount to nearly five years in prison.

More than 7,000 Palestinians are reportedly held in Israeli jails. Hundreds of them have apparently been incarcerated under the administrative detention, a policy under which Palestinian inmates are kept in Israeli detention centers without trial or charge.

Some Palestinian prisoners have been held in administrative detention for up to 11 years.

Palestinian inmates regularly stage hunger strike in protest at the administrative detention policy and harsh conditions in Israeli jails.

Over a dozen Palestinian lawmakers and nearly 20 journalists are also held in Israeli detention centers, several of them under the administrative detention policy.

In 2015, Israel approved a law that authorizes force-feeding the Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, a practice rejected by the United Nations as a violation of human rights.

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