Up to 500 Palestinians are under administrative detention, a system regularly used by Israel to jail Arabs without disclosing evidence.
Celebrations flooded social Qatari media over the victory of hunger-striking Palestinian Hisham Abu Hawwash, after Israeli authorities agreed to release him on Tuesday.
Abu Hawwash, a 40-year-old father of five, maintained a 141-day hunger strike to protest his unjust detention by Israeli authorities who had put him behind bars without charge. A statement by the Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs Commission said that the hunger-striker will be released on 26 February.
In Qatar, the hashtag #Hisham_Abu_Hawwash began trending on Twitter shortly after news of his pending release broke. Journalists and activists, expressed their relief upon hearing the news, given that Abu Hawwash was on the brink of death.
— Amal Ismael (@AmalAmmar1999) January 4, 2022
“Hisham Abu Hawwash wins the battle of empty stomaches over his torturers…a hunger strike and a warning from Hamas forced the [Israeli] occupation to acquiesce in the release of the prisoner,” tweeted prominent Qatari journalist Jaber Al Harmi.
Joining in the celebration, Amanie Geha, a Qatar-based presenter at Al Araby TV tweeted: “Congratulations on your freedom.”
A Qatar resident also tweeted,” Congratulations, hero, may God revive your health and well-being.”
Beyond Qatar, people noted the important role of social media in pressuring Israeli authorities to release Abu Hawwash, after images of his worn-out body circulated over various platforms in recent months.
“It is certain that the [Israeli] occupation did not respond to calls for resolving the prisoner’s case until public, official and media pressure and action was taken.” tweeted Al Jazeera’s Palestinian correspondent Shireen Abu Aqla.
She noted that Abu Hawwash almost lost his life amid the delay in global calls for his release on social media.
Meanwhile, celebrations were seen in various parts of Palestine, with videos showing fireworks lighting up the skies as people chanted slogans praising Abu Hawwash’s resistance.
Reality of administrative detention
Abu Hawwash’s case has brought the ongoing struggles of hundreds of other Palestinian administrative detainees to the global attention. His hunger strike was also the longest since ex-detainee Samer Issawi maintained an eight month long protest back in 2013.
Under administrative detention, Palestinians are arrested by Israeli forces without charge, with no legal proceedings, and based on “classified evidence” that the prisoners and public know nothing about.
In turn, Palestinians subjected to such unjust arrests use hunger strikes to protest their detainment and regain their freedom.
According to Palestinian Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Addameer, there are currently up to 500 administrative detainees, while the Palestinian Prisoner Society [PPS] says that Israel issued over 1,600 administrative detention orders against Palestinians in 2021 alone.
The PPS also noted that the highest number during the past year was in May, where Israel arrested 200 people. This occurred during nation-wide protests against forced dispossessions of Palestinians and amid a brutal Israeli war on the besieged Gaza strip where at least 250 people were killed.
The rights group says 60 detainees have resorted to hunger strikes for their release, in what has been widely described as the “Battle of Empty Stomachs”.