Al-Akhras: My hunger strike revealed Israeli crimes


JENIN, Palestine - Former Palestinian prisoner Maher al-Akhras, who was on a hunger strike for 103 days, believes he succeeded in exposing Israeli occupation. "My will has triumphed over the Israeli occupation," al-Akhras said in an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency at his home in Silat ad-Dhahr, Jenin, in northwestern West Bank. Israeli authorities released al-Akhras Thursday after reaching an agreement to release him Nov. 26. "We do not have weapons but rather we have the strong will and determination to confront the occupation and its racist policies," he said. "I went on strike [to expose the policy of the Israeli occupation] and I succeeded in that; we cannot be silent about this injustice that is practiced against us.” There are approximately 4,400 Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons, including 39 women, 155 children and an estimated 350 administrative detainees.

Administrative detention is detention without charge and trial for a period of up to six months, which can be extended. Al-Akhras was arrested many times by Israeli authorities. After his arrest July 27, the occupation authorities decided to transfer him to the administrative prison without trial which he strongly rejected and decided to stage a hunger strike. "I will not accept being arrested for one day and I have informed the occupation of that and if they tried to arrest me again, I will strike again,” he said. "During the strike, I felt the occupation’s intention was to kill me.” Al-Akhras said fellow detainees in Israeli prisons are being subjected to "the most heinous Israeli crimes." "I left prisoners who were tortured behind me. My message is to support them and unite to release them," he said. Al-Akhras had a message to detainees: "With persistence, and with your stubbornness, you conquer the occupation." He urged Palestinian factions to "unite and to reject differences and [internal] division." Regarding his health after ending his hunger strike and returning home, al-Akhras said: "I am fine and I will be so." "I went through difficult days during the strike. I felt that I was close to martyrdom, despite all the pain and difficulties. I was patient and victory is nothing but patience for an hour,” he said. Al-Akhras praised popular and international solidarity with his cause a "The issue of prisoners always unites the Palestinian people in the face of the occupation. The occupation has always tried to sow discord among us." Since the day of his arrest, Palestinian territories in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as the Arab community in territories of 1948, witnessed solidarity calling for his release. This is not the first time a Palestinian prisoner has been on a hunger strike demanding release and protesting administrative detention. Khader Adnan, who was released after he ended a hunger strike Feb. 22, 2012, that lasted 66 days, had at the time the longest hunger strike recorded by a Palestinian prisoner. Also in 2012, Thaer Halala went on a hunger strike for 76 days. And Bilal Dhiab did it for 78 days. They protested administrative detentions. Samer Al-Issawi recorded the longest hunger strike in an Israeli prison which lasted for 227 days between August 2012 and April 2013, protesting administrative detention. To counter the hunger strikes, the Israeli Parliament, or Knesset, approved in 2014 a draft law on “forced feeding” Palestinian detainees on hunger strikes which was rejected by human rights and medical organizations.

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