Israel-Gaza truce shines mild on Palestinian starvation striker

IDNA, West Financial institution (AP) — A Palestinian starvation striker who has refused meals for the previous 160 days and is losing away in an Israeli jailhouse infirmary has immediately been thrust into the middle of efforts to agency up a Gaza cease-fire.

Khalil Awawdeh is within the highlight as a result of the Islamic Jihad group sought his launch as a part of Egyptian-brokered talks that ended three days of combating between the Gaza-based militants and Israel over the weekend.

In an try and win the militants’ settlement to halt their hearth, Egypt had assured them it might additionally attempt to win the discharge of their West Financial institution chief and of Awawdeh.

The 40-year-old father of 4 ladies, gaunt and weakened, is protesting his detention with out cost or trial by Israel. He’s one in every of dozens of prisoners who’ve staged starvation strikes in Israeli prisons.

Prospects for his launch are unsure. However his case highlights the plight of lots of of Palestinians who’re being held by Israel below a system that critics say denies them the fitting to due course of.

Israel can maintain so-called administrative detainees indefinitely, with out displaying them the alleged proof towards them or taking them to trial in navy courts. Many flip to starvation strikes as a final recourse to carry consideration to their state of affairs.

Awawdeh’s lawyer, Ahlam Haddad, mentioned her shopper is “shifting between life and loss of life” and that it is not sensible to maintain him in detention. “He seems to be like a pile of bones,” she mentioned. “How a lot of a menace can he be?”

His household says he not eaten for 160 days, and has solely been consuming water, apart from a 10-day interval when he additionally acquired vitamin injections.

Israel is presently holding some 4,400 Palestinians, together with militants who’ve carried out lethal assaults, in addition to individuals arrested at protests or for throwing stones. Round 670 Palestinians at the moment are being held in administrative detention, a quantity that jumped in March as Israel started near-nightly arrest raids within the West Financial institution following a spate of lethal assaults towards Israelis.

Awawdeh hails from a small city within the southern West Financial institution and labored as a driver. In his present situation, he makes use of a wheelchair, and is displaying reminiscence loss and speech difficulties.

Haddad mentioned he was arrested in December, accused by Israel of being a member of a militant group, a cost she mentioned he denies.

Dawood Shihab, an Islamic Jihad official, mentioned the group demanded his launch as a part of the truce talks as a result of it supported his wrestle for freedom, not as a result of he’s a member.

“This can be a matter that continues to be a shame to all of humanity,” he mentioned, referring to the starvation strike and detention.

Haddad mentioned she would not know why Islamic Jihad selected to incorporate him within the cease-fire deal, together with a senior West Financial institution commander Israel arrested final week. She is presently interesting his detention in court docket.

The arrest of the commander had sparked the weekend combating, with Israeli launching what it mentioned had been preemptive airstrikes at Gaza and Islamic Jihad firing lots of of rockets at Israel. Dozens of Palestinians had been killed through the combating.

The Israeli Shin Wager safety company didn’t reply to a request for remark.

Israel says administrative detention is required to forestall assaults or to maintain harmful suspects locked up with out sharing proof that might endanger precious intelligence sources.

Israel says it supplies due course of and largely imprisons those that threaten its safety, although a small quantity are held for petty crimes.

Palestinians and human rights teams say the system is designed to quash opposition and keep everlasting management over tens of millions of Palestinians whereas denying them primary rights.

Prisoners like Awawdeh have seemed to starvation strikes as their solely means to protest their detentions. Dozens of prisoners have staved off meals for weeks to attract consideration to their detention with out trial or costs.

“The instruments detainees must problem the unjustness of detention are only a few. Starvation strikes are an distinctive measure, a instrument for the weakest individuals who don’t have any different method of advocating for themselves,” mentioned Jessica Montell, the director of Hamoked, an Israeli human rights group, who mentioned Israel had turned its system of incarceration of Palestinians into an “meeting line.”

Prolonged starvation strikes draw worldwide consideration and stoke protests within the occupied Palestinian territories, placing stress on Israel to fulfill the prisoners’ calls for. Amid that stress, Israel has at occasions acceded to starvation strikers’ calls for.

As starvation strikers’ well being deteriorates, they’re transferred to Israeli hospitals below guard. They drink water, and medics encourage them to take nutritional vitamins, however many refuse.

Haddad mentioned she is hoping to persuade a decide that Awawdeh’s situation is so life-threatening that he have to be launched. She mentioned a jail physician has up to now disputed that analysis.

No Palestinian in Israeli detention has died on account of starvation strikes, however medical doctors say extended vitamin deficiency may cause everlasting mind harm.

In Awawdeh’s residence within the occupied West Financial institution city of Idna, his household was anxiously following the most recent cease-fire developments, now that his destiny was immediately linked to worldwide diplomacy.

Awawdeh’s spouse Dalal informed The Related Press that her husband’s launch on account of such efforts can be “a victory for your complete Palestinian trigger.”


Goldenberg reported from Tel Aviv, Israel. Imad Isseid contributed.

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