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Israel to free Palestinian hunger striker
Palestinian hunger striker held by Israel agrees to end protest, will be freed on April 17
By The Associated Press

JERUSALEM (AP) ' A Palestinian prisoner on Tuesday agreed to end a two-month hunger strike after reaching a deal with Israel that will free him in April, the Israeli Justice Ministry said.

The agreement ended a tense standoff that had drawn attention to a controversial Israeli policy of holding suspected Palestinian militants without charge.

Under the deal, Khader Adnan, a 33-year-old member of the Islamic Jihad militant group, agreed to resume eating immediately, the Justice Ministry said.

The statement said that if "no new additional substantial evidence" emerges against Adnan, he will be released on April 17, when a current, four-month detention order is to expire. It said that Adnan had agreed, through his attorney, to end the hunger strike.

Adnan was arrested from his West Bank home on Dec. 17 and launched his hunger strike the following day.

He said he was protesting Israel's policy of "administrative detentions," in which it holds suspected Palestinian militants for months, and even years, at a time without charge. Adnan also claimed to have been beaten and humiliated in prison.

Israel has said Adnan was suspected of acts that "threaten regional security" without elaborating. It has not responded to the abuse allegations.

Adnan was a spokesman for Islamic Jihad, a group that has killed dozens of Israelis in suicide bombings and other attacks. It is not known whether he participated in violent attacks.

Israel has defended the policy of administrative detentions as a necessary tool to stop militant activity. It says the measure is needed to protect its network of Palestinian informants.

Adnan's protest was the longest hunger strike ever by a Palestinian prisoner, and had caused some unease in Israel. The European Union and United Nations had expressed concern over the case and urged Israel to promptly give Adnan a trial.

Adnan, a baker by profession, has also become famous figure in the Palestinian territories, where supporters have held a series of demonstrations in support of him.

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