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Israel to release Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike

A Palestinian held without trial ended his 66-day hunger strike on Tuesday after Israeli authorities announced his release as part of a deal that avoids judicial review of the Israeli detention policy. The prisoner, Khader Adnan, is a 33-year-old member of the militant group Islamic Jihad who had been refusing food since his arrest in the West Bank in mid-December. He broke his hunger protest when he was promised to be released [Reuters report] in April if no new evidence is brought against him. A spokeswoman for the Israel Ministry of Justice [official website] confirmed that an agreement was reached and that Adnan will be released April 17. The deal came at a time shortly after Adnan had begun intravenous feeding and was believed to be in deteriorating health. This issue in particular has drawn concern from Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website], which called the April release "insufficient" [press release] and urged Israeli authorities to release him immediately to allow proper medical treatment. Adnan's protest is the longest hunger strike by a Palestinian detainee in history.

On Monday the Israel Supreme Court [official website] announced that it would hear Adnan's hunger strike case [JURIST report] despite a military judge rejecting his appeal in early February. The strike began and continued as a protest of Israel's policy of detaining Palestinian prisoners without bringing formal charges or presenting evidence and without a trial. These policies have long been criticized by human rights groups, including AI, which just last week called for the end of administrative detention in Israel [press release]. Earlier this month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] similarly urged [JURIST report] Israel to amend its policies that forbid Palestinians from traveling through and living in Gaza and the West Bank.

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