Palestinian Prisoner Ends 180-day Hunger Strike

Palestinian prisoner Khalil Awawdeh has ended a hunger strike of 181 days after Israel agreed to his release in October, his lawyer and the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Commission for prisoners’ affairs have said.

Awawdeh (40) started the hunger strike shortly after his arrest in December 2021 in protest of being held in Israel without charge or trial.

This is a practice known as administrative detention which allows Israel to detain Palestinians indefinitely based on secret information and without any formal charges or even a trial. They are usually held for renewable six-month periods that often lead to years in detention.

Israel says administrative detention is needed to keep dangerous suspects off the streets without revealing sensitive intelligence.

Palestinians and rights groups say the practice denies detainees the basic right to due process.

So far, Israel has provided few details about the accusations facing Awawdeh. An Israeli military spokesperson said that his detention had been confirmed several times by military courts “and it was determined that the confidential material in his case indicates that his release will threaten the security of the area”.

Awawdeh’s lawyer, Ahlam Haddad, has said that Israel accuses him of being a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, an allegation he still denies.

Until he is discharged on October 2, Awawdeh will remain in the hospital for treatment, his lawyer told the Reuters news agency. His condition requires long-term care since he weighs 37 kilograms and is suffering from neurological damage. His lawyer also explained that Awawdeh has lived only on the water since the strike began in March and warned weeks before the announcement that he could “die at any moment” due to his deteriorating health.

Hunger strikes as a form of protest

Several Palestinian detainees over the years have gone on prolonged hunger strikes as a form of protest against their administrative detention.

It is believed that Israel currently holds some 4,450 Palestinian prisoners and approximately 670 Palestinians under administrative detention, a number that jumped in March as Israel began near-nightly arrest raids in the occupied West Bank, says Al Jazeera.

Official figures show that at the end of September 2020, 376 Palestinians were held in administrative detention in Israel Prison Service (IPS) facilities, but since October 2020, the IPS has stopped providing Human rights group B’Tselem with figures in response to requests under the Freedom of Information Law.

Although there have been severe cases of medical neglect of Palestinians under administrative detention, and the amount of criticism towards this procedure, Israel will continue to use it to detain not only Palestinians from the occupied Palestinian territory, which includes the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, but also to hold Israeli citizens and foreign nationals.

According to the Prisoners’ rights group Addameer, to hold individuals without trial, Israel uses three laws: Article 285 of Military Order 1651, which is part of the military legislation applying in the West Bank; Internment of Unlawful Combatants Law (Unlawful Combatants Law), which has been used against residents of the Gaza Strip since 2005 and the Emergency Powers (Detentions) Law, which applies to Israeli citizens.

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