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Israel releases Palestinian prisoner Thaer Halahleh

June 6, 2012 |  6:50 pm

Thaer Halahleh in Hebron
RAMALLAH, West Bank –- Israel has released a Palestinian prisoner who had been on a long hunger strike amid growing international criticism of its administrative detention policy.

Thaer Halahleh, 33, started a hunger strike in February to protest consecutive terms of administrative detention during which he was held without being charged or going on trial.

He was on a hunger strike for 77 days before ending it May 15 after an agreement between the Israel Prison Authority and about 1,600 prisoners who had also gone on hunger strike to protest conditions.

Halahleh’s father, Aziz, said his son arrived in the southern West Bank city of Hebron late Tuesday after his release. He was brought in an ambulance because of his weak condition.

“The ambulance just could not move for one hour as people surrounded it hoping to get to see Thaer,” the father said.

He said his son looked extremely frail and weak and was unable to walk even though he had ended his hunger strike almost three weeks before his release. He was taken to a hospital early Wednesday for tests.

Halahleh, married and with a daughter, was arrested on July 26, 2010, and served consecutive three- or six-month terms in administrative detention. His most recent term was scheduled to end in July.

In a report published Wednesday, Amnesty International strongly criticized Israel’s administrative detention policy, a remnant of the pre-1948 British Mandate period, and said Israel must either release all Palestinians held under long-standing administrative detention laws or charge and try them promptly and fairly.

“For decades, Amnesty International has urged Israel to end the practice of administrative detention and to release detainees or charge them with an internationally recognizable criminal offense and try them according to international standards,” said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“Israel has used its system of administrative detention – intended as an exceptional measure against people posing an extreme and imminent danger to security – to trample on the human rights of detainees for decades," Harrison said. "It is a relic that should be put out to pasture."

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--Maher Abukhater

Photo: Thaer Halahleh is welcomed by his family in the West Bank city of Hebron. Credit: Abed Al Hashlamoni/EPA

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