June 28, 2015 / 11:21 PM / 2 years ago

Jailed Palestinian agrees to end hunger strike: official

RAMALLAH (Reuters) - An Islamic Jihad leader jailed by Israel has agreed to end a 56- day hunger strike in exchange for a pledge that he would go free next month, a Palestinian official said on Monday.

A Palestinian policeman loyal to Hamas stands guard as spectators stand behind a fence and hold a poster depicting Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan, who is being held in an Israeli jail, as they watch the Gaza Strip Cup final soccer match between Ittihad Shejaiya and Khadamat Rafah in Gaza City June 7, 2015. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Khader Adnan’s strike had galvanized Palestinians behind a “battle of empty stomachs” against Israeli administrative detentions, and both sides had feared the threat of him dying could hurt a shaky Gaza truce or lead to an upsurge in violence.

Qadoura Fares, chairman of the Palestinian Prisoners Club that defends inmates in Israeli jails, told Reuters on Monday “a deal has been reached” for Adnan to end his hunger strike and Israel would then free him on July 12.

The Israeli military did not immediately respond to telephone queries for comment.

Adnan, 37, had been hospitalized in critical condition as a result of rejecting food since May 4.

Israel had arrested Adnan last July for the 10th time, detaining him without trial under so-called administrative detention, a method Israel says it employs as a security measure to prevent violence.

Adnan, a father of six from the West Bank city of Jenin, had launched an extended hunger strike in 2012, which also led to his freedom.

Israel has sought to prevent hunger strikes by introducing legislation to permit prisoners to be force fed, but the measure has met with obstacles such as condemnation by the national doctors’ union, which says it contravenes ethical commitments.

Adnan is a known Islamic Jihad figure in the West Bank, territory that Israel captured in a 1967 war, where Palestinians seek an independent state. Like Islamist Hamas, Islamic Jihad opposes peace deals between the Palestinians and Israel and advocates the destruction of Israel.

Israel and Hamas fought a 50-day war in July and August that devastated much of Gaza and in which more than 2,100 Palestinians, many of them civilians, and 73 Israelis died.

Reporting by Ali Sawafta; Writing by Nidal Almughrabi; Editing by Toni Reinhold

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