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Israeli authorities release former hunger striker after 12 years in prison

May 30, 2017 7:00 P.M. (Updated: May 31, 2017 10:54 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities released Palestinian prisoner Ali Ahmad Brijieh, 41, on Tuesday after he had spent 12 years in Israeli prisons, and just days after he and hundreds of Palestinian prisoners ended a 40-day mass hunger strike.

Brijieh, from the village of al-Masara in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem, was released from Israel’s Negev prison and transferred to the Beit Jala Governmental Hospital for medical checkups following his involvement in a mass hunger strike carried out among hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli custody.

Brijieh told the Palestinian-run news agency Wafa that he has continued to suffer from shortness of breath and severe pains in his stomach and loins owing to his hunger strike.

Hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons ended a 40-day hunger strike on Saturday, after calling for an end to the denial of family visits, the right to pursue higher education, appropriate medical care and treatment, and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention -- imprisonment without charge or trial -- among other demands for basic rights.

While Palestinian leaders have claimed that 80 percent of the prisoners’ demands were met by Israel, Israel Prison Service (IPS) officials have strongly denied the statements, saying that no concessions were given to the prisoners and the agreement that ended the strike only guaranteed a reinstatement of a second monthly family visit to the prisoners that would be funded by the Palestinian Authority (PA).

According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, 6,300 Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons as of April, most of whom are being held inside the Israeli territory in contravention to international law which forbids holding Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza outside the occupied territory.

While Israeli authorities label Palestinians as “security prisoners,” activists and rights groups have long considered Palestinians held in Israeli custody as political prisoners, and have routinely condemned Israel’s use of prison as a means of eroding Palestinian political and social life in the occupied territory.

Addameer has reported that 40 percent of the male Palestinian population has been detained by Israeli authorities at some point in their lives.
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