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Palestinian prisoner ends 113-day hunger strike after learning of slated release

Miqdad Qawasmeh, who Shin Bet says is being held for unspecified Hamas activity, will be freed in February, after his condition had deteriorated rapidly

Two Arab Israeli nurses at Kaplan hospital pose with Miqdad Qawasmeh, a Hamas member who is on a hunger strike to protest being held in administrative detention. (Screenshot/Kan)
Two Arab Israeli nurses at Kaplan hospital pose with Miqdad Qawasmeh, a Hamas member who is on a hunger strike to protest being held in administrative detention. (Screenshot/Kan)

Palestinian security prisoner Miqdad al-Qawasmeh ended a 113-day hunger strike in protest of his detention by Israel without charges, after learning that he will be released in February, Palestinian officials said Thursday.

Qawasmeh’s health had rapidly deteriorated following his prolonged hunger strike, his lawyers said. The detainee was being held under Israel’s practice of administrative detention, which allows law enforcement to hold prisoners without charges for security reasons. Rights groups contend that Israel abuses the controversial judicial tool.

The Shin Bet security service says that Qawasmeh was being held for Hamas activity, though it has yet to specify further. His father, Omar Qawasmeh, is a well-known commander in the Hamas terror group’s West Bank division.

According to Joint List MK Osama Saadi, who pushed for Qawasmeh’s release, the latter is now set to leave Israeli custody in February.

Several other Palestinians are currently engaged in extended hunger strikes in Israeli prisons, including Fatah member Kayed Fasfous, who has also been fasting for nearly six months, according to Palestinian media.

Qawasmeh made headlines in Israeli media last month when a pair of Arab Israeli nurses posed for a video with him and posted it to social media.

Illustrative: Palestinian security prisoners in Ofer Prison, north of Jerusalem, on August 20, 2008. (Moshe Shai/Flash90/File)

Far-right activists called for the nurses to be fired. They later apologized and the Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot agreed not to terminate them as a result.

Last month, Hamas announced that dozens of its members who are prisoners in Israeli jails will go on a hunger strike to protest the ongoing policy of administrative detention against Palestinian suspects.

The announcement comes two days after the leadership of a prisoners group affiliated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group announced the end of a hunger strike that was launched in protest of new Israeli policies toward detainees.

The unofficial body claimed on Friday that it had come to an agreement with the Israel Prisons Service that met several of its demands.

A security official familiar with the situation, however, told The Times of Israel on Friday that the group’s claims were false, and that there had been no negotiations between prisoners and wardens.

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