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Prisoners Abu Farah, Shadid end hunger strikes after 90 days

Dec. 22, 2016 12:52 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 22, 2016 6:12 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Palestinian prisoners Ahmad Abu Farah and Anas Shadid announced the suspension of their hunger strikes on Thursday, following an agreement with the Israeli military prosecution that the two would be released after one final renewal of their administrative detentions for four months.

Shadid and Abu Farah had been in critical conditions after going 90 and 91 days without food, respectively, in protest of being imprisoned by Israel without charge or trial under the widely-condemned policy of administrative detention.

Lawyer Ahlam Haddad said that Abu Fara and Shadid agreed to the Israeli prosecution’s offer after the Israeli Supreme Court rejected the appeal to release them immediately.

According to Haddad, the court refused to cancel their sentences outright, saying that they would only make such a decision if the hunger strikers’ conditions deteriorated to the point that they fell into comas, causing permanent damage that would prevent them from being a future threat to the state of Israel.

Haddad pointed out that the families of the prisoners were consulted before the offer was accepted and Abu Farah and Shadid ended their strikes.

The two rejected a similar deal offered by the Israeli prosecution on Dec. 3 that also guaranteed their release after a renewed four months on their administrative detention.

At the time, Shadid and Abu Farah, who had been without food for 70 and 71 days, committed to continuing their hunger strikes until they were completely released.

They both had slipped into a coma and had already partially or completely lost their ability to breath, speak, drink, and hear, as Israeli authorities also began threatening to force feed them.

Anas Ibrahim Shadid, 20, and Ahmad Abu Farah, 29, were both detained on Aug. 1 in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, and declared their hunger strikes on Sept. 24 and 23.

In addition to refusing food, Abu Farah and Shadid began refusing to consume water last week after the court rejected a previous appeal to release them, when Israeli prosecutors instead called for the extension of their administrative detention orders.

Lawyers Karim Ajweh and Nassim Abu Ghosh, who visited the two Palestinians on Wednesday said that Shadid was suffering from pains all over his body, kidney and liver problems, could not move, and had difficulty speaking. Abu Farah was also in a very critical condition, having also lost the ability to speak and move, and suffered from severe kidney, stomach, and eyesight issues.

The Israeli Supreme Court held a hearing on Tuesday evening on their cases, but delayed making a decision saying they needed to review medical reports.

The court had previously considered force feeding the two hunger strikers in lieu of releasing them, a decision that would amount to a violation of international law. Their case was the first to come to the fore since the Supreme Court decided in September that force feeding hunger strikers was constitutional, despite the practice of force feeding being regarded by internationally accepted medical ethics as a form of torture.

Israel’s use of administrative detention -- which rights groups say is means to hold Palestinians for an indefinite period of time without showing any evidence that could justify their detentions -- has sparked a number of high-profile hunger strikes by Palestinian detainees in recent months, with many of them reporting being threatened with force feeding.

Israeli authorities have waited until the last minute to agree to release hunger strikers who were nearing death, as was the case with the Balboul brothers who went without food for 77 and 79 days, Malik al-Qadi for 68 days, Bilal Kayid for 71 days, and Muhammad al-Qiq for 94 days.

Physicians for Human Rights - Israel said earlier this month that the eleventh hour release pattern that has emerged with impirosned hunger strikers “enables the Israeli authorities to deal on a case-by-case basis with hunger strikers, avoid their death and the resultant political and media firestorm, while not needing to deal with the root of the hunger strikes -- the use of administrative detention.”
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