Palestinian prisoner ends hunger strike following release deal | Israel-Palestine conflict News


Khalil Awawdeh, who was detained without charge or trial, is suspending the hunger strike that will last 172 days and is expected to be released in October.

Palestinian prisoner Khalil Awawdeh ended a hunger strike that lasted more than 170 days after Israel agreed to his release in October, his lawyer and the PLO Prisoner Affairs Committee have said.

Awawdeh, 40, launched the hunger strike shortly after his arrest in December 2021 in protest at being held in Israel without charge or trial, a practice known as “administrative detention.”

Until his discharge on Oct. 2, Awawdeh will remain in hospital for treatment, his lawyer, Ahlam Haddad, told Reuters news agency.

Haddad said Awawdeh has been living on water alone for months and warned last week that he could “die at any moment” due to his deteriorating health.

The Prisoners’ Commission also confirmed that Awawdeh would remain in the hospital until he “makes a full recovery”, adding that his condition requires “long-term care”.

Awawdeh is one of many Palestinian detainees who have gone on lengthy hunger strikes over the years in protest at so-called “administrative detention.”

Administrative detainees are arrested on “secret evidence”, unaware of the charges against them, and not allowed to defend themselves in court. They are usually held for renewable six-month periods often leading to years in detention.

While Israel claimed the procedure allows authorities to detain “suspects” as they continue to collect evidence, critics and rights groups have said the system is widely abused and the “suspects” are denying a fair trial.

‘You are a great nation’

Palestinian Islamic Jihad fighters had demanded Awawdeh’s release as part of an Egypt-brokered ceasefire, ending three days of attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip by Israeli forces earlier this month. The group did not identify him as a member.

The Israeli attacks killed 49 people in Gaza, including 17 children.

No immediate comment was available from the Israeli military, the Ministry of Defense or the prison service.

Dawoud Shehab, the spokesman for Palestinian Islamic Jihad, praised the agreement as an achievement, which he said came after weeks of effort.

“We are grateful for the great effort Egypt has made to secure the freedom of Brother Awawdeh,” Shehab told Reuters.

Haddad, Awawdeh’s lawyer, said this week that her client weighs 37 kilograms [around 80 pounds] and suffers from neurological damage. He took vitamins for two weeks in June when he thought his case was resolved, but has otherwise only had water since the strike started in March, his family said.

In a video circulating on social media, Awawdeh, who appeared weak and bony and kept getting breathless while speaking from a hospital bed, said he will remain in the hospital until he is healthy and can walk again.

In another video shared by his lawyer, the father of four who stood by him thanked him before ending his hunger strike with a cup of tea.

“Thank you for your support,” he said. “You are a great nation. You are a great nation.”

Israel is currently holding some 4,450 Palestinian prisoners. About 670 Palestinians are currently held in administrative detention, a number that rose in March when Israel began near-night arrests in the occupied West Bank.

Of the thousands of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, 175 are children and 27 are women, according to the latest figures published by the prison rights organization Addameer.

Some of the strictest prison policies that Palestinians are subjected to include medical neglect.

Many Palestinians consider all detainees in detention as political prisoners because of the Israeli military occupation and their resistance to it.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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