Monday, July 23, 2012

Akram Rikhawi ends 102-day hunger strike as Israel agrees to early release

 The Electronic Intifada
by Ali Abunimah
Ismael Mohamad / United Press International

Akram Rikhawi ends 102-day hunger strike as Israel agrees to early release

Akram Rikhawi, who had been on hunger strike for more than 100 days, has ended his fast in exchange for an agreement by Israel for his early release.
Prisoner’s rights group Addameer issued the following statement today:
Ramallah, 23 July 2012 - Following a visit today by Addameer lawyer Mona Nadaf, Addameer can confirm that Palestinian hunger striker Akram Rikhawi has ended his hunger strike after reaching an agreement with the Israeli Prison Service. Akram ended his hunger strike yesterday evening after 102 days.
As part of the agreement Akram will be released on 25th January 2013, which is six months prior to his original release date. Addameer’s lawyer visited Akram in Ramleh prison, where he remains in critical condition. It was agreed that upon his release he will return to his home in the Gaza Strip.
Addameer’s lawyer also visited Hassan Safadi, who is on his 33rd day of hunger strike. Hassan’s health continues to deteriorate with recent tests indicating that he has developed kidney stones as a result of his hunger strike. He remains extremely weak and is currently taking only water and vitamins.

Relief for his family

The news will likely come as a relief Rikhawi’s family, especially his wife Najah who has not been allowed to visit her husband since 2006. The couple has 8 children of their own, and 5 from Najah’s earlier marriage to Akram’s brother who was killed by Israeli occupation forces.
Rikhawi has suffered from multiple chronic illnesses during his years of incarceration.
Shahd Abusalama profiled the family a few days ago and spoke to the eldest daughter Yasmin, who like other family members has been desperately worried about Akram’s grave health situation:
What are the human rights organizations, Hamas, the Palestinian Authority waiting for before they move?” his daughter Yasmin asked severely, “Are they waiting for him to return to us in a coffin? Would they be happy for eight children to become fatherless, and five others to be orphaned for a second time? If dad dies, we’ll never forgive those who could have done something, but chose to look away.”