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

One of Akram’s youngest twins who were born shortly before his arrest. He only knew his father from photos.

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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.”

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Please visit the families of the other hunger strikers and speak to them. Do not wait until the situation is very critical. Help the prisoners get what they are fighting for.
Do our heroes need to strike for 100 days just to be free six months earlier?
Until now, I do not know why Samer Al-Barq was detained in Jordan and handed to the Israelis. Why are the Egyptian goernment and president silent about renweing the administration detention for Hasan Safadi and rearresting of Ayman Sharawna?
Please let us know all the facts.

Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.