The Palestinian hunger striker, whose images shocked the world amid his more than 170-day strike, has ended his strike after striking a deal to be released
Palestinian administrative prisoner Khalil Awawdeh, who has been on a hunger strike for more than 170 days with a two week pause, is seen at Assaf Harofeh hospital in Be’er Ya’akov, Israel, last week. Credit: Sinan Abu Mayzer/Reuters
Hagar Shezaf, Haaretz, Aug 31, 2022
Khalil Awawdeh, whose lawyers have warned he could die at any moment over 170 days into his hunger strike, announced that he is ending his strike after an agreement was reached to end his administrative detention on October 2nd.
In a video, Awawdeh said he will stay in the hospital for treatment and supervision until he recovers.
“This is another victory in the series of wins for administrative detainees who led a struggle for their release and freedom. I am ending the strike after I received word of my victory.”
Awawdeh’s wife celebrated the news of her husband’s release. “Khalil proved that the Palestinian prisoner can achieve victory over the occupation.”
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad said the “historic campaign he led will be recorded in the annals of Palestinian struggle.”
A senior Egyptian source told Haaretz that Egyptian officials were part of backdoor talks with Israel to secure Awawdeh’s release, which was apparently a condition promised as part of the recent ceasefire agreement in the Gaza Strip. The source added that talks to secure senior Islamic Jihad commander Bassam al-Saadi’s release are still under way.
Back by an Egyptian guarantee, Awawdeh signed that he will not return to “terrorist activities” as a condition of his October 2 release, an Israeli security source said, adding that Israel will release him as long as there is no reason to believe otherwise.
Weighing under 90 pounds, Awawdeh’s photos shocked the world and led world leaders to urge Israel to either release him or charge him in court. On Tuesday, Israel’s High Court rejected a petition demanding his release and an end to his administrative detention, a practice employed by Israel to hold political prisoners indefinitely without trial.
Dr. Bettina Birmans, a neurologist who volunteers at Physicians for Human Rights visited Awawdeh last Friday. In her opinion, which was submitted with the petition for his release, Birmans said that compared to summaries of previous tests Awawdeh has undergone, there has been a deterioration in his condition – he can barely move his limbs, is unable to complete sentences, suffers from weakness and pain throughout his body, and is experiencing deterioration of his eyesight, memory, and cognitive function.
Israel has provided few details about the accusations facing Awawdeh. An Israeli military spokesperson said last week 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 was recently transferred from Ramle Prison to the Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Israel due to his failing health.
Earlier this month, the Israeli military temporarily suspended the administrative detention order against Awawdeh because his condition was deteriorating. However, Israel’s High Court rejected an appeal to release him — the judges wrote that the court has no room to intervene in the decision to keep Awawdeh under arrest despite his condition.