Israel return ex-prisoner weeks after ending hunger strike

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Israeli authorities freed a prominent Palestinian prisoner on Sunday, two weeks after striking a release deal that ended his marathon 131-day hunger strike, said a prisoner rights group.

Kayed Fasfous, 32, had remained in an Israeli hospital since ending his strike on Nov. 23. Six hunger strikers made him the symbol of protest against Israel’s “administrative detention” policy, which permits suspects to remain indefinitely and without being charged.

Israel says the policy is necessary to keep dangerous suspects locked away without disclosing sensitive information that could expose valuable sources. Rights groups and Palestinians say this practice violates the right to due process. Israel can keep suspects in prison for up to a year without seeing any evidence. This law is not often applied to Israelis.

The Palestinian Prisoners Club, a group representing former and current prisoners, confirmed Fasfous had returned home to the occupied West Bank through a military checkpoint near the southern city of Hebron on Sunday afternoon. The former prisoner was seen in an online video celebrating his return home to Dura, his hometown in southern Israel. He then went to Ramallah hospital.

The plight of the six hunger strikers ignited solidarity demonstrations across the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza in November mounting pressure on Israel to release the detainees. After reaching similar agreements with Israeli authorities, at least four other hunger strikers ended their protests. In the next few months, they are likely to be freed.

Hunger strikes are common among Palestinian prisoners and have helped secure numerous concessions from Israeli authorities. These strikes can be used by individuals to protest detention and/or groups seeking better conditions in their cells. Around 500 of the 4,600 Palestinians detained by Israel are held in administrative detention according to Addameer, a Palestinian prisoner rights group.

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