100 days into hunger strike, jailed Palestinian 'dying'

AFP , Friday 6 Nov 2020

'Every day, he dies 100 times in front of my eyes and I can do nothing,' Taghrid Al-Akhras said by telephone from husband Maher's bedside in Kaplan hospital

Maher al-Akhras. (Wafa)
Maher al-Akhras. (Wafa)

A Palestinian on hunger strike for over 100 days under Israeli detention is close to dying, suffering severe cramps and headaches, his wife told AFP on Friday.

"Every day, he dies 100 times in front of my eyes and I can do nothing," Taghrid Al-Akhras said by telephone from husband Maher's bedside in Kaplan hospital, near Tel Aviv.

"What to do when we see those dearest to us dying in front of us?" she asked, speaking in Arabic.

Maher al-Akhras, 49, was arrested near the occupied West Bank city of Nablus in July and put in administrative detention, a policy that Israel uses to hold suspected militants without charge.

He is suspected of links to the armed Palestinian group Islamic Jihad.

The father of six launched his fast to protest a four-month detention order, which ends on November 26 but could be extended.

Akhras was transferred from prison to the hospital in early September, as his health deteriorated.

Late last month, as the International Committee of the Red Cross warned of "potentially irreversible health consequences", he was moved back to the medical wing of nearby Ramla prison but the Israeli supreme court ordered him returned to Kaplan.

His lawyers have appealed several times for his early release or his transfer to a Palestinian hospital, but so far without success.

"Israel is doing, and will continue to do, all it can to ensure the health of Mr. Al-Akhras," the Israeli foreign ministry said Friday.

"However, it should be noted that the hunger strikes are being used as a political tool by terrorists, and by terrorist organisations."

Taghrid al-Akhras says her husband is feeble, consuming only water and has difficulty speaking.

"What danger can he present when he cannot even get out of bed?" she said. "He suffers major head pains and cramps".

Palestinian prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has demanded his immediate release, while Israeli Arabs and Palestinians have held demonstrations in his support.

Akhras has been arrested several times by Israel in the past.

Israel's administrative detention policy, inherited from the British mandate of Palestine, allows the internment of prisoners without charge for renewable periods of up to six months each time.

Israel says the procedure allows authorities to hold suspects and prevent attacks while continuing to gather evidence, but critics and rights groups say the system is abused.

Around 355 Palestinians were being held under administrative detention orders as of August, including two minors, according to Israeli human rights group B'Tselem.

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