After 82 days of hunger strike, Maher al-Akhras on the verge of death


GENEVA – Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties ( GCRL) warns of a serious threat to the life of the Palestinian detainee in Israeli prisons, Maher al-Akhras,49, after a sharp deterioration in his health condition. Al-Akhras entered, today October 16th, 2020, his 82 consecutive days of hunger strike in protest of his prolonged administrative detention.

GCRL  calls on the Israeli authorities to immediately release al-Akhras, who has been on hunger strike since his arrest on 27 July and to provide him proper and adequate health care as his health has deteriorated due to the Israeli deliberate medical neglect. GCRL also called for an end to the policy of administrative detention.

Palestinian detainee al-Akhras is currently held in Kaplan Hospital, since last September 23, following a severe deterioration in his health and repeated loss of consciousness. He suffers from severe head and stomach pain, high pressure in the eyes, cloudy vision, and ringing in the ears. He also suffers from pressure in the chest area and he is unable to move. His wife reported that the doctors told her that there is a real danger to her husband’s life and that they could lose him at any moment.

Al-Akhras, 49, married, and father of six. Israeli forces arrested him after raiding his house in the town of Silat Al-Dhahr, south of Jenin, in the northern West Bank, and placed him in administrative detention in Ofer prison. He decided to go on a hunger strike as he had previously suffered from repeated administrative detention of more than 4 years.

Geneva Council holds the Israeli authorities fully responsible for the life of al-Akhras amid the continued Israeli refusal to release him, with the complicity of the Israeli Supreme Court. On Monday, 12 October 2020, the Supreme Court of Israel refused to release Maher al-Akhras, an administrative detainee on a hunger strike, despite his seriously deteriorated health condition.

This decision further exposes the complicity of Israel’s authorities, including its judiciary, in the systematic violation of human rights. Geneva Council affirms that detainee Maher Al-Akhras’ hunger strike to protest administrative detention cast light on this policy which violates human rights norms.

Administrative detention was used in Palestine during the British Mandate era under Articles 108 and 111 of the Defence (Emergency) Regulations of 1945. These regulations were included in the military legislation of the Israeli occupier. On this basis, Military Order No. 378 (Articles 84A and 87) regarding security instructions and amended subsequent orders is the legal basis that regulates the issue of administrative detention in Israel.

The power to issue an administrative order was, prior to the first Intifada, in the hand of the Area Commander of the West Bank or Gaza Strip. A significant change was introduced in 1988 by Military Order (M.O) 1229 and more recently M.O 1466 (June 1999) when the power to issue such orders are given to lower-ranking Israeli military commanders and officers.

In addition, Military Order No. 1281 (4 August 1989) allowed for the period of a single administrative detention order to be for a year instead of six months.

Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties states that the Israeli authorities’ detention practices are a flagrant violation of the rules of international humanitarian law. It is crystal clear that the Israeli authorities use administrative detention as a punitive method, in the absence of effective safeguards to guarantee the right to a fair trial, which is a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 regarding the protection of civilians in times of war.

GCRL recalls that human rights law, and in particular the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Articles 10 and 11) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Articles 9 and 14) have guaranteed the detainee’s right to a fair trial and due process to prevent arbitrary detention. such rights are not upheld in administrative detention orders.

Israel holds about 4,500 Palestinian prisoners, of which about 350 are being held in administrative detention, without the right to a trial. Administrative detention orders issued by the Israeli occupation since 1967 amounted to more than 50,000.

Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties notes that about 90 Palestinian detainees have also started a hunger strike during the past days, in solidarity with the Al-Akhras and demanding an end to detainees’ isolation and to Israeli violations against them.

GCRL calls for international pressure to oblige Israel to immediately release  Maher Al-Akhras and to stop the policy of administrative detention. It also the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Territories to intervene immediately to save the life of the detainee who has been on hunger strike for 82 days and faces death in Israeli prisons, and to call for his immediate release. Geneva Council believes that the international silence in the face of the Israeli occupation’s crimes gives green light for the occupation to continue committing its crimes which require prompt and effective steps to ensure accountability for perpetrators and justice for victims.

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