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Prisoners’ commission: Hunger-striking Palestinian inmate ‘on the brink of death’

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Palestinian hunger-striking prisoner Hisham Abu Hawwash (Photo by Palestinian Information Center)

A Palestinian commission for prisoners has warned of severe deterioration in the health condition of Palestinian prisoner Hisham Abu Hawwash, saying he is "on the brink of death" after an open-ended hunger strike of 140 days in protest against Israel’s so-called policy of administrative detention.  

The Palestinian Commission of Detainees' and Ex-Detainees'  Affairs said in a statement on Monday that the 40-year-old Palestinian inmate is in serious health condition and is facing the risk of sudden death at any moment as a result of his prolonged hunger strike in protest at his indefinite, unfair and unexplained imprisonment at the hands of the Tel Aviv regime, the Palestinian Information Center reported.

Abdul Qader al-Khatib, the undersecretary of the commission, stressed that Abu Hawwash should be released immediately or transferred to Palestinian hospitals in order to be saved, as his health condition is rapidly deteriorating.

He further noted that Israel's refusal to release the hunger-striking inmate indicates that there is an intention to kill him, condemning the international community's inaction on Tel Aviv's continued violations.

The commission has already warned that the health condition of Abu Hawwash has reached a critical stage and could face irreversible health consequences at any moment, calling for his immediate release.  

The Palestinian Prisoner's Society (PPS) attorney, Jawad Boulos, has also said the doctors have confirmed that Abu Hawwash is facing the risk of sudden death at any moment.

Abu Hawash, a father of five children, was arrested in October 2020 and held in an Israeli jail under administrative detention, a form of imprisonment in which the individual is never tried and can be held indefinitely. He is one among several other hunger-striking Palestinians who are demanding an end to their detention without charge.

On December 27, the Israeli occupation authorities issued a decision to freeze the administrative detention order against Abu Hawash. However, his lawyer said the Palestinian inmate had decided to continue his hunger strike despite his deteriorating health condition until the order is canceled.

According to the PPS, the freezing decision does not mean ending Abu Hawash's administrative detention in any way but rather means that the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) and Israel's internal spy agency Shin Bet are no longer responsible for the hunger-striking prisoner's life and fate.

Palestine PM calls for intl. intervention over dying hunger striker

Meanwhile, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has called for international intervention to secure the release of Abu Hawwash, who is facing an imminent threat to his life.

The Palestinian premier made the appeal during the weekly cabinet meeting in Ramallah on Monday, saying he is closely monitoring the health condition of the dying hunger-striking prisoner, Palestine's  official Wafa news agency reported.

He further noted that he has sent a letter to all relevant international organizations, urging them to put pressure on Israel to secure the immediate release of Abu Hawash.

More than 7,000 Palestinians are reportedly held in Israeli jails. Hundreds of them have apparently been held in "administrative detention," with some of them staying in jail for up to 11 years. 

Palestinian detainees have continuously resorted to open-ended hunger strikes in an attempt to express their outrage at the practice.

In 2015, Israel approved a law that authorizes force-feeding the Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, a practice rejected by the UN as a violation of human rights.

The United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), as well as many human rights groups, have frequently expressed serious concern about the hunger strikers' health condition and call for their immediate release.

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