Israel rejects Palestinian hunger striker’s appeal for release
An Israeli military court rejects appeal for release of Khalil Awawdeh, whose health is deteriorating as he continues a 165-day hunger strike.
An Israeli military court rejected an appeal for release by a Palestinian prisoner whose health is deteriorating as he continues a 165-day hunger strike to protest being held without charge or trial.
Khalil Awawdeh is one of several Palestinian detainees who have gone on prolonged hunger strikes over the years in protest of so-called administrative detention.
Israeli forces arrested the 40-year-old father of four in December, accusing him of being a member of an armed group – an accusation that Awawdeh’s lawyer Ahlam Haddad said her client denies.
Awawdeh’s lawyer Haddad confirmed on Monday that the military court rejected his appeal for release. He has not eaten during the strike, except for a 10-day period in which he received vitamin injections, according to his family.
Dr Lina Qasem-Hassan, of Physicians for Human Rights Israel, visited him on Thursday at the hospital where he was transferred after his condition worsened. She said he weighed 42kg (around 90 pounds), was handcuffed to a bed and surrounded by guards.
“He suffers from severe neurological symptoms and cognitive impairment, which might be irreversible,” the rights group said in a statement. “His life is in immediate danger.”
Israel is currently holding some 4,450 Palestinian prisoners. Around 670 Palestinians are currently being held in administrative detention, a number that jumped in March as Israel began near-nightly arrest raids in the occupied West Bank.
Of the thousands of Palestinians held in Israeli jails, 175 are children and 27 are women, according to the latest figures published by prisoners’ rights group Addameer.
Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service has not commented on his case.
Administrative detainees are arrested on “secret evidence”, unaware of the accusations against them, and are not allowed to defend themselves in court. They are usually held for renewable six-month periods that often lead to years in detention.
While Israel says the procedure allows authorities to hold suspects while continuing to gather evidence, critics and rights groups say the system is widely abused and denies due process.
Palestinian fighters from the Islamic Jihad demanded Awawdeh’s release as part of an Egyptian-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.
Some of the most severe prison policies to which Palestinians are subjected include medical neglect.
Many Palestinians view all prisoners who are in detention as political prisoners because of the Israeli military occupation and their resistance to it.