Palestinian activist ends 103-day-long prison hunger strike


Palestinian protesters shout slogans while holding pictures of prisoners held in Israeli jails during a demonstration in solidarity with jailed hunger strikers in the West Bank village of Kafr Rai near Jenin on May 11, 2012.



Palestinian hunger-striker Akram Rikhawi ended a remarkable 103-day-long fast today, in exchange for a pledge of release from Israeli prison five months ahead of schedule, reports the Associated Press.

Rikhawi began his fast on April 12, demanding release from prison due to his medical conditions, which allegedly include asthma and diabetes, AP reports.

Rikhawi was imprisoned by Israel for the crime of transporting suicide bombers, AP added. 

AFP reports that Rikhawi started and stopped his fast at various times during the period beginning April 12, and it cannot be said for certain how long he actually went without  sustenance. 

Palestinian prisoners have turned to hunger-strikes as a striking way to protest their treatment in Israeli jails.

In May, a huge bloc of 2000 Palestinian hunger strikers ended their fasts after reaching a deal with Israel, which agreed to end solitary confinement for 19 prisoners and to lift a ban on visitors hailing from the Gaza Strip, Al Jazeera reported. Prisoners still demand an end to "administrative detention" without trial, Al Jazeera added.

The hunger-strikers have achieved so much notoriety from hunger strikes that Egyptian prisoners have turned to similar tactics, reported Al-Jazeera in May. 

Hunger strikes are an ancient political tactic, and have been used, often to striking effect, by activists and freedom-fighters from Mohandas Ghandi to the Irish Republicans.

Although a definitive record for the world's longest hunger strike does not appear to exist, non-violent activist Irom Sharmila Chanu of Manipur, India, allegedly has refused food or water for around a decade, according to the New York Times. She has been kept alive in detention by force-feeding.