By| Tamara Nassar
Al-Akhras took the decision after Israel agreed to release him on 26 November, when his current administrative detention order ends. Such orders can be renewed indefinitely but Israel has agreed not to renew his.
He will spend the remainder of his detention hospitalized, as he recovers from a fast that brought him to the brink of death.
האסיר הפלסטיני מאהר אל אח'רס הפסיק את שביתת הרעב שחל לפני 103 ימים לאחר שקיבל הבטחה שהוא ישוחרר ב 27.11 ולא יחודש מעצרו המנהלי pic.twitter.com/m0QbDRNpgB
— sami abed alhamid سامي عبد الحميد (@samiaah10) November 6, 2020
— وكالة شهاب للأنباء (@ShehabAgency) November 6, 2020
بعد 103 أيام من الإضراب عن الطعام،، إرادة الأسير ماهر الأخرس تنتصر على السّجان بعد اتفاق يقضي بإطلاق سراحه في تاريخ السادس والعشرين من تشرين الثاني/ نوفمبر 2020. pic.twitter.com/61716M8tjW
— شجاعية (@shejae3a) November 6, 2020
“The prisoner’s will prevailed over the jailer’s oppression,” the Palestinian Prisoners Club stated in an announcement of his decision.
The 49-year-old father of six hails from the occupied West Bank town of Silat al-Dahr, near Jenin, where he owns a dairy farm.
“I don’t want to die. I love life. I do not choose death,” he told Tel Aviv daily Haaretz this week.
“But I am standing steadfast until all of us, as human beings, will be free.”
Al-Akhras rejected Israeli claims that he presents a danger.
“I’m not a danger for anyone. Not Israeli citizens and not any other citizen in the world. I want us to live in peace, Jews and Arabs,” he said. “I long for that. I don’t want us to raise weapons and fight one another.”
Al-Akhras previously spent a total of five years in Israeli prisons.
The Israeli military arrested him again on 27 July.
He told Haaretz that shortly after his arrest, he was handed a phone and spoke to a commander from Israel’s domestic intelligence agency Shin Bet.
The officer threatened to “wreck my life” and that “even if I were released, I would regret it,” al-Akhras recalled.
Al-Akhras began refusing food immediately after the phone call.
The Shin Bet did not interrogate him, al-Akhras said.
An Israeli military judge then ruled that a secret file against al-Akhras did not warrant an extension of his detention and attempted to release him, he said.
But the Shin Bet asked for more time to interrogate him.
Al-Akhras said he wasn’t interrogated then either, but he was questioned briefly by a police officer.
“He said the suspicion is that I am connected to some organization with other people,” al-Akhras recalled.
The judge again intended to order his release but delayed it as the Shin Bet said it was considering placing al-Akhras in administrative detention – imprisonment without charge or trial.
He then received a four-month administrative detention order.
“Freedom or death”
Throughout his hunger strike, al-Akhras maintained that his only conditions were “freedom or death.”
He stood by his assertion that it was entirely within Israel’s hands to release him, but they chose to continue detaining him without charging him.
“The state’s intention is to execute me and to liquidate me,” he told Haaretz. “The decision is not in my hands, it is up to the Israeli legal system.”
Al-Akhras, who is currently hospitalized at the Kaplan Medical Center in the Israeli city of Rehovot, told Haaretz that the director of one of the hospital wards tried to force-feed him by pumping nutrition through his veins on day 42 of his strike.
“They tried to tie me to the bed. But I was strong and didn’t let them do it,” he said, adding that he wasn’t able to get out of bed again after the incident.
A spokesperson for the hospital said doctors did not provide treatment against al-Akhras’ will or physically restrain him.
Even if Israel brought charges against al-Akhras, its military kangaroo courts have a near-100 percent conviction rate for Palestinians.
Instead, the court said it had “suspended” his administrative detention order.
The supposed freeze does not allow for the prisoner’s release but merely places obstacles to appealing his detention.
Palestinians are hailing al-Akhras’ steadfastness and courage and crediting him with rallying national and global support for Palestinian political prisoners.
Israel is currently holding 4,400 Palestinians in its prisons, including 350 in administrative detention.