Last updated: 29 March, 2012

Palestinian detainee ends 43-day hunger strike

A Palestinian woman in Israeli detention, Hanaa Shalabi, has agreed to end a 43-day hunger strike, Palestinian prisoner affairs minister said on Thursday.

“Hanaa Shalabi agreed to end her hunger strike following an agreement with Israeli authorities under which she will be exiled to the Gaza Strip,” Issa Qaraqaa told AFP.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, which tracks detainees in Israeli jails, said Shalabi, a 30-year-old from the West Bank, would have to stay three years in Gaza.

Qaraqaa and the prisoners’ group both condemned the “deportation” of Shalabi.

“She had to accept because Israel put pressure on her. But we are totally opposed to all deportation measures,” said the minister.

“We accept Hanaa Shalabi’s choice, but deportation can in no way constitute a solution,” the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club said in a statement.

Last Sunday, an Israeli military court rejected an appeal from Shalabi against a four-month administrative detention order which allowed for her to be held without charge.

She has been on hunger strike since her detention on February 16, to protest both her detention without charge and violence she says was inflicted during her arrest.

Last week, rights group Amnesty International urged Israel to prosecute or free Shalabi, saying she was “at risk of death.”

She was hospitalised on March 19, after 33 days without food, with doctors saying she had lost 14 kilos (31 pounds) and her pulse was “feeble.”

Shalabi was among more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners released in October in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, held by Gaza-based militants for more than five years.

She had been held by Israel for more than two years without charge before she was released under the prisoner exchange.

The Israeli army has said she is “a global jihad-affiliated operative” who was re-arrested on suspicion that she “posed a threat to the area.” But no charges were filed.

Shalabi is one of around 300 Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails under administrative detention orders, which allow a court to order an individual to be detained for renewable periods of up to six months at a time.

Her action was inspired by a hunger strike undertaken by another Palestinian prisoner, Khader Adnan, who was also protesting his administrative detention.

Adnan refused food for 66 days, only agreeing to end his hunger strike after a deal was struck ensuring he would be released at the end of his four-month term.

In the wake of his hunger strike, dozens more Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have launched similar protests, according to Palestinian and Israeli officials.

Shalabi’s case attracted support across the Palestinian territories, as did that of Adnan, with demonstrations of solidarity held in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip.