Khader Adnan began his hunger strike after he was arrested in December
Israel accuses Adnan of ties to the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad
His doctors said he was on the brink of death
His case shed light on a controversial Israeli detention policy
A West Bank man who became an unlikely symbol of Palestinian resistance to Israeli detention policies ended his 66-day long hunger strike Tuesday after the Israeli government announced that he would be freed in April.
Israel’s Justice Ministry said Khader Adnan’s detention would be shortened and not renewed “as long as no new significant and substantiate material” was presented against him.
Word of Adnan’s pending release was greeted with celebrations on the street in his West Bank village of Araba and his wife, Randa Adnan told CNN she was happier than the day she was married.
Adnan, 33, who served a spokesman for the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad was arrested by Israeli security forces December 17, 2011, at his home near the West Bank city of Jenin. He began a hunger strike, according to his family, after Israeli interrogators subjected him to humiliation and verbal abuse.
Adnan’s two-month protest was the longest hunger strike in Palestinian history and was a high stakes gamble that succeeded in bringing international attention to Israel’s arrest and detention policies for Palestinians.
His doctors said he was on the brink of death.
The hunger strike become a rallying cry for Palestinians, who staged multiple rallies of support in the West Bank and Gaza and launched a social media campaign to shed light on Israel’s policy of administrative detention, a controversial practice that allows authorities to detain people indefinitely. There is no requirement to charge detainees held under this practice.
At the end of 2011, Israel had 307 Palestinians under administrative detention, according to B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group. That was a 40% increase in the number of detentions from a year earlier, the group said.
The Israeli military never said what evidence it held against Adnan and refused to release details about his arrest, saying only he was being held on an “administrative warrant for activities that threaten regional security.”
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said Adnan was a leader of “brutal terrorist group” and that he constituted “a real threat to the public” though he offered no specifics.
Islamic Jihad, an Iranian-backed militant group, has been blamed for suicide bombings in Israel that have killed dozens. Both the United States and the European Union consider the group a terrorist organization.
Adnan’s wife denied her husband was involved in any violent activities. She said despite previous arrests, Israel has never produced evidence he was a senior figure within the Islamic Jihad.
Islamic Jihad had warned Israeli authorities not to harm Adnan, and photos and tributes fill a website maintained by the group.