High Court rejects hunger striker’s release, says he should ‘come to his senses’

The High Court has rejected a petition for the release of a Palestinian prisoner who has been on hunger strike for nearly six months and whose lawyer says is in danger of “sudden death.”

Khalil Awawdeh is protesting being held by Israel in what’s known as administrative detention, a practice in which detainees suspected of militant activities are imprisoned for months or years without charge or trial.

In recent pictures he resembles a human skeleton, his skin tightly stretched over a bony frame.

Khalil Awawdeh, a Palestinian who has been on a hunger strike for several months protesting being jailed without charge or trial under what Israel refers to as administrative detention, lies in bed at Asaf Harofeh Hospital in Be’er Ya’akov, Israel, Wednesday, August 24, 2022. (AP/Mahmoud Illean)

Awawdeh’s lawyer, Ahlam Haddad, says Israel accuses him of being a member of the Islamic Jihad militant group, an allegation he denies. Islamic Jihad demanded his release as part of a cease-fire that ended a flare-up of violence in Gaza earlier this month, but did not identify him as a member.

Haddad says the 40-year-old Awawdeh weighs 37 kilograms (around 80 pounds) and is suffering from neurological damage. He took vitamins over two weeks in June when he thought his case was being resolved but has otherwise only had water since the strike began in March, his family says.

“He is in a stage between life and death,” Haddad says. “According to the medical literature, he is in danger of a sudden death.”

In its ruling, the court says it “hopes that the petitioner will come to his senses and stop the hunger strike,” adding that it was confident he would receive the necessary medical care.

Israel has officially suspended his arrest, but he remains in custody at an Israeli hospital.

Israel says administrative detention is needed to keep dangerous terrorists off the streets without revealing sensitive intelligence. Palestinians and rights groups say it denies detainees the basic right of due process.

Most Popular