After 43 days, 61-year-old Palestinian prisoner ends hunger strike

After 43 days, 61-year-old Palestinian prisoner ends hunger strike
Hossam Ruzza reached a deal with Israeli authorities for release in July after his administrative detention order was renewed twice, keeping him in jail for over a year without charge.
3 min read
03 May, 2019
Hossam Ruzza will be released in July [Addameer]
A Palestinian prisoner ended his hunger strike on Wednesday after 43 days, having reached an agreement with Israeli authorities not to renew his administrative detention order, which has seen him imprisoned for over a year without charge or due process.

Hossam Ruzza, 61, will be released on July 13, according to his lawyer. He launched the open-ended hunger strike on March 19, to demand a release date for his jail term after his administrative detention order was renewed twice.

Israel's widely condemned policy of administrative detention allows Palestinians to be detained without charge or trial for renewable intervals usually ranging between three to six months.

Ruzza, who suffers from diabetes, experienced worrying declines in his health while on strike, including low blood sugar levels, liver problems, and joint pain.

Before launching the strike, Rozza had been subject to extremely punitive prison conditions, including being put in solitary confinement and having his clothes confiscated. He was not allowed visitors or to meet with his lawyer, and his 2x2 meter cell was searched four times a day, according to Palestinian prisoner advocacy group Addameer.

After he began the strike, the 61-year-old was transferred to the medical wing at Ramleh prison, where he was able to meet with his lawyer and file an appeal against his detention order. On Wednesday Israel's Attorney General officially agreed to release Ruzza in exchange for suspending his hunger strike.

Read more: Palestinian hunger strikers: The frontline of an imprisoned nation

However Ruzza's case is far from uncommon. There are currently around 350 Palestinians held in administrative detention in Israeli jails, according to Addameer. Four others have been on hunger strike for over a month, with concerns growing for their welfare.

What was particular about Hossam's case however, was his age, according to Addameer.

"He is older than the other hunger strikers, and already had problems with diabetes," Addameer's Media Coordinator Qassam Muaddi told The New Arab.

Muaddi added that the specific way that Israel practices administrative detention goes against international law.

"It's more psychological torture than anything else.Their detention orders can get renewed the same day as their release date," he said.

Muaddi added that because of the way the practice is abused, Addameer holds the Israeli authorities fully responsible for the health consequences that arise from the hunger strikes.

"Israel's use of administrative detention blatantly violates the restrictions of international law. Israel carries it out in a highly classified manner that denies detainees the possibility of mounting a proper defense," says human rights group B'Tselem.

Follow Florence Dixon on Twitter @flo_dix