Palestinian hunger striker will appeal to Israel’s Supreme Court

Palestinian prisoner Khalil Awawdeh continues a 165-day hunger strike against his detention without charge or trial.

Protesters gather outside the hospital where Palestinian Khalil Awawdeh is clinging to life in Be'er Yaakov on Aug. 13, 2022 [Tsafrir Abayov/AP]
Protesters gather outside the hospital where Palestinian hunger striker Khalil Awawdeh is clinging to life in Be'er Yaakov on August 13, 2022 [Tsafrir Abayov/AP]

Palestinian prisoner and hunger striker Khalil Awawdeh will appeal to Israel’s Supreme Court against his detention after an Israeli military court rejected an appeal for his release on health grounds, his lawyer said.

Awawdeh – who his family says has been on hunger strike protest for 165 days – is protesting being held without charge or trial under what Israel refers to as administrative detention.

Lawyer Ahlam Haddad said her client’s health is deteriorating and that they have asked that he be released.

“Justice was not done with that man,” Haddad said of the Israeli military court’s ruling.

“We turn to … the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, in order maybe to get the relief requested, which is his release from administrative detention.”

Awawdeh, a 40-year-old father of four, is one of several Palestinian prisoners who have gone on prolonged hunger strikes over the years to protest administrative detention.

Israel has said the policy helps keep threats off the streets and allows the Israeli government to hold suspects without divulging sensitive intelligence.

Critics have said the policy denies Palestinian prisoners due process.

Israel said Awawdeh is a member of an armed group, an allegation he has strenuously denied through his lawyer.

Palestinian fighters from the Islamic Jihad demanded Awawdeh’s release as part of an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire ending three days of attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip by Israeli forces earlier this month. The group did not identify him as a member.

Israel is currently holding some 4,450 Palestinian prisoners.

Approximately 670 Palestinians are currently being held in administrative detention, a number that jumped in March as Israel began near-nightly arrest raids in the occupied West Bank.

Of the thousands of Palestinians held in Israeli jails, 175 are children and 27 are women, according to the latest figures published by prisoners’ rights group Addameer.

Haddad said her client has not eaten during his hunger strike, except for a 10-day period in which he received vitamin injections, according to his family.

Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service has not commented on his case.

Israel has said administrative detention provides due process and largely imprisons those who threaten its security, though a small number of prisoners are held for petty crimes.

Palestinians and human rights groups said the system is designed to quash opposition to Israel’s 55-year military occupation of their lands and which shows no sign of ending.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies