Palestinian prisoner ends hunger strike after Israel agrees to free him
Jerusalem, Aug 31 (EFE).- A Palestinian man who spent more than six months on hunger strike to protest his detention by Israel announced Wednesday that he will resume taking nourishment after the Israelis agreed to free him.
Khalil Awawdeh ended the 182-day-long fast in exchange for a commitment by Israel that his administrative detention will end Oct. 2, the Palestinian National Authority’s Commission on Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs said.
The father of four was recently taken from prison to a hospital due to a sharp deterioration in his health.
He was taken into custody on Dec. 27 and subsequently informed that he would be held for six months in administrative detention, a controversial mechanism that allows authorities to jail individuals without informing them of the charges or permitting them access to a lawyer.
Israel is currently holding more than 720 Palestinians in administrative detention.
Awawdeh suspended his hunger strike after 111 days based on assurances that he would be released at the end of six months. But when authorities instead extended the detention for another four months, the prisoner resumed the fast early last month.
In a video announcing he is abandoning the hunger strike, an emaciated Awawdeh – his weight is under 90 lbs. (40.8 kgs) – said that he will remain hospitalized until his release.
Doctors who have examined Awawdeh say that some of the damage to his body from the hunger strike may be irreversible.
“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 said.
Israeli authorities say that Awawdeh has links to Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which welcomed the news of his planned release in a statement saying that the “historic campaign he led will be recorded in the annals of Palestinian struggle.”
Citing a senior Egyptian source, Haaretz newspaper reported that officials in Egypt were in contact with Israel about Awawdeh’s release, “which was apparently a condition promised as part of the recent cease-fire agreement in the Gaza Strip.”
Israel’s High Court on Tuesday rejected a motion to free Awawdeh.