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'We Have Won Over the Occupation': Israel Frees Maher Al-Akhras After 103-Day Hunger Strike

The Palestinian father of six was released after refusing all food and drink to protest Israel's administrative detention policy. 

Palestinian prisoner Maher Al-Akhras and his daughter after he was released by Israeli authorities on November 26, 2020. (Photo: Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP/Getty Images)

Palestinian prisoner Maher Al-Akhras and his daughter arrive at their home in the occupied West Bank village of Seylat al-Dhahr, south of Jenin city, following his release by Israeli authorities on November 26, 2020. (Photo: Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP/Getty Images) 

Israeli authorities on Thursday released a jailed Palestinian man weeks after he ended a 103-day hunger strike to protest his imprisonment without charge. 

Agence France-Presse reports Maher Al-Akhras, 49, was was transferred from a hospital in Tel Aviv, Israel to one in the illegally-occupied West Bank city of Nablus nearly three weeks after ending his hunger strike against Israeli administrative detention.

"My freedom is the freedom of my people, and we have won over the occupation with our will and determination," Al-Akhras declared upon his release, according to Middle East Eye. The father of six added that his health is "fine."

"I feel pain in my joints, but I will be fine, inshallah," he said, using the common Arabic expression meaning "God willing." 

Addameer, an advocacy group for Palestinian prisoners, says about 4,500 Palestinians were jailed by Israel as of last month, with around 370 of them held in administrative detention. According to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem: 

Administrative detention is incarceration without trial or charge, alleging that a person plans to commit a future offense. It has no time limit, and the evidence on which it is based is not disclosed. Israel employs this measure extensively and routinely, and has used it to hold thousands of Palestinians for lengthy periods of time. While detention orders are formally reviewed, this is merely a semblance of judicial oversight, as detainees cannot reasonably mount a defense against undisclosed allegations. Nevertheless, courts uphold the vast majority of orders.

The policy dates back to the period when Palestine—which includes all of what is today Israel—was ruled as a British colony and pro-independence Jewish militants carried out terrorist attacks against occupying forces and Palestinian Arabs. 

Al-Akhras refused to eat or drink since he was arrested on July 27. Shin Bet, Israel's internal intelligence agency, claims he is a member of the Palestinian resistance group Islamic Jihad. Al-Akhras, who denies the allegations, has been imprisoned at least five times for a total of more than five years since he turned 18.

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