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Israel frees former hunger striker

February 17, 2014 at 11:19 pm

The Israeli authorities have freed Hasan al-Safadi after a total of 166 days on hunger strike amid extremely harsh prison conditions.

Al-Safadi ended a 93-day hunger strike on September 21 after assurances he would be freed at the end of his current administrative detention term, which expired on Monday. He spent 10 years in administrative detention, and launched a 71-day hunger strike on March 5 this year. Some 2,000 other prisoners joined the strike leading to an agreement with the Israeli Prison Service which included assurances about curtailing the use of administrative detention. Despite this, Al-Safadi’s administration detention was renewed on June 21, so he went on hunger strike again.

After spending most of his hunger strikes in the hospital at Al-Ramleh military prison, Al-Safadi called for pressure to be applied on the Israeli occupation: “They need to close this so called hospital,” he said. “It is even not a prison, it is a grave.” The Israelis detain hundreds of prisoners in this hospital and “all of them suffer difficult health conditions”, claims Al-Safadi.

The Palestinian Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs, Issa Qaraqe, confirmed what Al-Safadi said about Al-Ramleh. “Prisoners at Al-Ramleh are transformed into abandoned piles of human flesh because of the deliberate medical negligence,” he alleged. “In addition to the prisoners already detained there, at least 100 others have medical examinations every week, which worsens the plight of the patients.”