Last updated: 5 June, 2012

Veteran Palestinian hunger striker freed

Palestinian hunger striker Thaer Halahla, who fasted for 76 days in protest at Israeli prison conditions, was released on Tuesday evening, relatives told AFP.

Family members in the West Bank city of Hebron said that Halahla, who along with fellow inmate Bilal Diab set a record for a Palestinian hunger strike, was freed after being held without charge since June 2010.

Diab is expected to be released in August.

They were were among more than 1,500 prisoners who fasted for varying periods until May 14, when a deal with Israeli authorities for better conditions was struck.

Those held without trial in what Israel calls “administrative detention” were promised that they would go free at the end of their current term — unless fresh evidence emerged against them.

Administrative detention is a procedure that allows suspects to be held without charge for renewable periods of up to six months.

Two Palestinians, Mahmud Sarsak and Akram Rikhawi, are currently on hunger strike.

Sarsak, an administrative detainee from Gaza, is demanding to be recognised as a prisoner of war. He began refusing food on March 23, and went 53 days without eating before a short break on May 14 when the deal was signed.

He restarted his strike a day later.

Rikhawi, who has served six years of a nine-year sentence, is demanding that the prison authority hand over his medical file prior to him appearing before a prison release committee to expedite his release.

The two are in the infirmary at Ramle prison near Tel Aviv.