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Home World News Washington Post World News Palestinian prisoner ends nearly six-month hunger strike

Palestinian prisoner ends nearly six-month hunger strike

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JERUSALEM – A Palestinian detainee held without charge or trial by Israel said on Wednesday he will suspend his nearly six-month hunger strike after reaching an agreement to release him in October.

Lawyers and doctors have warned that the Khalil Awawdeh, a 40-year-old father of four, was at risk of dying and already suffering neurological damage from the prolonged hunger strike. In recent photos, he resembles a human skeleton, his skin stretched taut over a bony frame.

In a video circulating online on Wednesday and apparently recorded from his hospital bed, Awawdeh confirmed an agreement had been reached on his release, calling it a “sounding victory” for the Palestinian people.

Awawdeh protested being held without charge or trial in what is known as administrative detention. Israel says the practice is necessary to keep dangerous militants off the streets without revealing sensitive information. Palestinians and human rights groups say it denies detainees the fundamental right to a fair trial.

The Commission of Detainee Affairs, part of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said Awawdeh had reached an agreement that would see him released on October 2, “after fighting an epic battle for which he sacrificed his flesh and life.”

He said he will remain in an Israeli hospital until he is fully recovered.

There was no immediate comment from Israeli officials and the exact details of the agreement were unclear.

Israel accuses Awawdeh of being a member of the militant group Islamic Jihad, a claim he denies. The group had demanded his release as part of the ceasefire that ended three days of heavy fighting in Gaza earlier this month, without identifying him as a member.

Ahlam Haddad, Awawdeh’s lawyer, said this week that her client weighs 37 kilograms and has 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.

Israel had officially suspended his arrest, but he remained in custody in an Israeli hospital.

Several Palestinians have gone on lengthy hunger strikes in recent years to protest the administrative detention. In most cases, Israel eventually released them after their health deteriorated significantly. No one has died in custody, but many have suffered irreversible neurological damage.

Israel currently holds 743 administrative detainees, the highest number since 2008, according to Israeli human rights group HaMoked, which tracks the number using official figures obtained through freedom of information requests.

Administrative prisoners have exploded in recent months as Israeli forces conducted nighttime raids on the occupied West Bank following a series of deadly attacks on Israelis earlier this year. Almost all administrative detainees are Palestinian, as the practice is rarely used with Jewish detainees.

“Administrative detention should be a rare, exceptional measure, but it is standard practice in Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, with hundreds of people being held for months at a time, without charge or trial, based solely on classified information,” said Jessica Montell. , the director of HaMoked. “All these detainees must be given a fair trial or be released immediately.”

Israel currently holds about 4,400 Palestinian prisoners, including militants who carried out deadly attacks, as well as those arrested in protests or for throwing stones. The Palestinians consider them all to be political prisoners held for opposing Israel’s 55-year military occupation of areas the Palestinians want for a future state.

Krauss reported from Ottawa, Ontario.



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