Thursday 05 October 2023

Hunger striking Palestinian prisoner Awawdeh ‘could die any moment’: Rights group

The health condition of Palestinian prisoner Khalil Awawdeh has reached a critical stage as he entered the 154th consecutive day of his open-ended hunger strike against Israel’s policy of administrative detention.

Hasan Abed Rabbo, a spokesman for the Palestinian Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs, said on Sunday that  the 40-year-old could face irreversible health consequences any moment.


He said Awawdeh's health condition is rapidly deteriorating, and that he was suffering from severe joint pain, headache, dizziness and a blurred vision. He now requires a wheelchair and is also showing memory loss and speech difficulties.


Local media reported on Thursday that Awawdeh was transferred to an Israeli medical center in Tel Aviv.


The Palestinian Prisoners Club, which represents former and current prisoners, confirmed that Awawdeh’s condition had worsened.


“He is in a real life-threatening situation,” said Qadura Fares, the head of the organization, adding, “He could die at any moment.”


Awawdeh, from the West Bank city of al-Khaili, was arrested on December 27, 2021. He went on hunger strike for 111 days before suspending it following promises. After the promises turned out to be false, he resumed the strike, demanding his freedom. Israel issued an order to renew his administrative detention for a period of four months from June 26 to October 25 despite his highly critical health condition.


According to reports, the freedom of Awawdeh was one of the clauses of the Egyptian-mediated ceasefire between the Palestinian Islamic Jihad resistance movement and Israel to end the latest episode of the regime’s brutality against Gaza, which killed nearly 50 Palestinians, including 17 children.


Thousands of Palestinians are held in Israeli jails. Human rights organizations say Israel violates all the rights and freedoms granted to prisoners by the Geneva Convention. They say administrative detention violates the right to due process since the evidence is withheld from prisoners while they are held for lengthy periods without being charged, tried, or convicted.


Palestinian detainees have continuously resorted to open-ended hunger strikes in an attempt to express outrage at the detentions. Israeli jail authorities keep Palestinian prisoners under deplorable conditions lacking proper hygienic standards. Palestinian inmates have also been subject to systematic torture, harassment, and repression.


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