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Hisham Abu Hawash

Palestinians gather outside the Dura, West Bank house of hunger-striking prisoner Hisham Abu Hawash, held under Israeli administrative detention, after he reportedly ended his fasting protest, on January 4, 2022. (Photo: Hazem Bader/AFP via Getty Images)

Palestinian Prisoner Hisham Abu Hawash Ends Hunger Strike After Deal With Israel

The plight of the father of five drew worldwide calls an end to Israel's "inhumane" administrative detentions and "apartheid justice system."

Brett Wilkins

Palestinians and human rights defenders around the world on Tuesday cheered reports that Hisham Abu Hawash—who has been imprisoned in Israel without charge for 16 months—is ending a 141-day hunger strike after reaching an agreement with Israeli officials.

"As long as this inhumane system exists, there will be more hunger strikes and more pain."

Haaretz reports that Abu Hawash's administrative detention—a policy under which the Israeli military indefinitely imprison men, women, and children without charge or trial—will not be renewed under the terms of a deal with Israeli authorities in which the 40-year-old father of five will remain hospitalized at the Shamir Medical Center in Be'er Ya'akov, Israel while he recovers.

A lawyer representing the Palestinian prisoner—who, according to a medical report released Sunday by Physicians for Human Rights, was in "imminent danger" of death due to nutritional deficiencies—said he will be released on February 26.

Palestinian journalist Aya Isleem called the development "a heroic story of the triumph of determination and willpower despite all odds and sacrifices."

According to the Israeli internal security service Shin Bet, Abu Hawash is a member of the Islamic Jihad militant resistance group, but the agency has produced no concrete evidence to support the allegation. Relatives said that during his hunger strike—when he consumed only water and, until stopping six weeks ago, three grams of sugar and salt per day—Abu Hawash's weight dropped from 175 pounds to 85 pounds.

His hunger strike sparked protests in Palestine and beyond and drew worldwide attention to Israel's administrative detention, a practice also employed by dictatorships including China and Egypt, as well as the United States at Guantánamo Bay and in the Palestinian Authority-ruled West Bank.

In the United States, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), the first Palestinian-American woman elected to Congress, on Monday condemned Abu Hawash's detention, while calling on U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to "demand an end to Israel's practice of holding Palestinians living under apartheid in detention without representation, fair trial, or even a shred of due process."

According to the prisoner advocacy group Addameer, Israel currently imprisons more than 4,500 Palestinian political prisoners, including 500 administrative detainees, as well as 170 children.

Al Jazeera reports that those 500 prisoners began the new year by refusing to attend their court sessions in a bid to "put an end to the unjust administrative detention practiced against our people by the occupation forces."

Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch, told The New York Times that "Israel's overbroad use of [administrative detention], 54 years into an occupation, locking up hundreds of people with secret evidence clearly goes beyond what international law authorizes. It makes a mockery of basic due process."

U.S.-based Jewish Voice for Peace tweeted that "as long as this inhumane system exists, there will be more hunger strikes and more pain. We need to fight to make sure all of those under administrative detention get free and that all Palestinian prisoners are freed from the shackles of an apartheid justice system."

The U.S.-based peace group CodePink tweeted that "we must continue protesting Israel's practice of imprisonment [without] charge or trial until ALL political prisoners are free!"

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