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Palestinian former hunger striker Bilal Kayid released from prison

Dec. 12, 2016 5:04 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 13, 2016 12:16 P.M.)
NABLUS (Ma’an) -- Israeli authorities released former hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner Bilal Kayid to his home in the village of Asira al-Shamaliya in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus on Monday afternoon, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS).

Kayid went on hunger strike in June after Israeli authorities sentenced him to administrative detention -- an Israeli policy of internment without charge or trial based on undisclosed evidence -- on the day he was scheduled to be released from prison after serving a 14-and-a-half year sentence.

After refusing medical treatment, vitamins, and salt supplements, living off only water for 71 days, Kayid suspended his hunger strike in late August after reaching an agreement with Israeli authorities to end his administrative detention and release him on Dec. 12.

Kayid a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was originally detained in 2002 for alleged involvement in the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades -- the armed wing of the PFLP.

He was transferred between several prisons during his 14-and-a-half-year sentence and was frequently placed into solitary confinement, the last stretch of which left him in isolation for nearly a year at Ramon prison after Israeli authorities learned of his leadership activities among Palestinians inside Israeli prisons.

Scores of Palestinian prisoners have launched hunger strikes in the past year to protest administrative detention or the conditions of their incarceration.

In addition to Kayid, the most prominent hunger strikers included Muhammad al-Qiq, who ended his strike after 94 days, brothers Muhammad and Mahmoud Balboul, who were released from prison last week, and Anas Shadid and Ahmad Abu Farah, who have been on hunger strike for 81 and 80 days respectively.

Rights groups have claimed that Israel's administrative detention policy has been used as an attempt to disrupt Palestinian political processes, notably targeting Palestinian politicians, activists, and journalists.

Israel considers the majority of Palestinian political parties to be “terrorist organizations." As a result, most Palestinians who participate in the political arena in the occupied Palestinian territory risk being imprisoned by Israeli authorities.

Although Israeli authorities claim the withholding of evidence during administrative detention is essential for state security concerns, rights groups have instead claimed the policy allows Israeli authorities to hold Palestinians for an indefinite period of time without showing any evidence that could justify their detentions.

According to prisoners rights group Addameer, there were 7,000 Palestinian prisoners being held by Israel as of October, 720 of whom were administrative detainees.
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