Palestinian prisoner suspends hunger strike following release deal

By Thomson Reuters Aug 31, 2022 | 1:51 PM

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Palestinian prisoner Khalil Awawdeh ended a hunger strike lasting over 160 days on Wednesday after Israel agreed to his release in October, his lawyer said.

Awawdeh, 40, launched the hunger strike shortly after his arrest in December 2021 in protest of being held by Israel without charge or trial, a practice known as administrative detention.

Until he is discharged on Oct. 2, Awawdeh will remain in hospital for treatment, his lawyer, Ahlam Haddad, told Reuters.

Haddad said Awawdeh has subsisted only on water for months and warned last week that he could “die at any moment” due to his deteriorating health.

Egyptian mediators recently pushed for Awawdeh’s release under a ceasefire agreement to end three days of fighting between Israel and the militant Islamic Jihad group that left 49 people dead in Gaza.

No comment was immediately available from the Israeli military, defense ministry or prison service.

Dawoud Shehab, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad spokesperson, hailed the agreement as an achievement, which he said came following weeks of effort.

“We are grateful for the big effort Egypt has exerted to secure the freedom of brother Awawdeh,” Shehab told Reuters.

In a video circulating on social media, Awawdeh, who appeared frail and bony and kept losing his breath as he spoke from a hospital bed, said he will remain hospitalised until he regains his health and can walk again.

In another video shared by his lawyer, Awawdeh thanked those who stood by him before ending his hunger strike with a cup of tea.

“Thank you for your support,” he said. “You are a great nation. You are a great nation.”

(Reporting by Henriette Chacar in Jerusalem and Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)