Early on Sunday morning, jubilant supporters gathered to give a hero’s welcome to an Islamic Jihad activist freed from an Israeli jail after nearly two months on hunger strike.
Khader Adnan refused food for 56 days to protest at being held for a year without trial under so-called administrative detention, a security measure Israel says it employs to prevent violence.
“The occupier made a mistake in imprisoning me the first time and the second time and all the other times,” he told reporters.
“And today they have made a mistake freeing me unusually early in the day, thinking that this would stifle Palestinian joy. It is a cowardly act by the occupier who is afraid of the joy and love that Palestinians have for their prisoners.”
A known Islamic Jihad figure in the West Bank, Adnan, 37, was warmly received back home in Jenin.
His hunger strike, which had left him critically ill, had galvanized Palestinians in a movement against Israeli detentions without trial.
Both sides feared the threat of the father-of-six dying could hurt a shaky truce in the Gaza Strip or spur further violence.
Israel has sought to prevent hunger strikes by introducing legislation for prisoners to be force fed, but the measure has hit obstacles, such as condemnation by the national doctors’ union, which says it contravenes ethical commitments.