There are at least 670 administrative detainees, 175 child prisoners, and a total of 4450 political prisoners.
Palestinian prisoner Khalil Awawdeh ended his hunger strike on Wednesday after a 182 day protest against his administrative detention by the Israeli regime.
According to Palestine’s news agency (WAFA), Israel agreed to set a ceiling for his detention, agreeing to release him on 2 October.
Various online campaigns demanding Awawdeh’s release emerged over the past few months as his health condition began deteriorating. Calls intensified this week after the 40-year-old prisoner’s wife released images showing his frail body, which weighed 38kg..
Awawdeh was arrested in December last year without trial nor charge, in what has become known as administrative detention – common practice carried out by the Zionist state.
“Israel’s sweeping use of administrative detention violates international law and is part of its apartheid against millions of Palestinians. Israel should cease its widespread practice of holding Palestinians without charge of trial,” Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine Director at Human Rights Watch (HRW), told Doha News.
In a video on Thursday, Awawdeh said,”Let my flesh perish, and my body perish for the sake of freedom and dignity.”
The extension of Awawdeh’s imprisonment constituted a violation of the 7 August ceasefire stipulating his release. The truce was brokered by Qatar and Egypt following a three-day deadly offensive on the besieged Gaza Strip, killing 49 Palestinians including 17 children.
Social media users expressed their relief following the decision to release Awawdeh, which came after repeated extensions by Israel.
In Qatar, Amanie Geha, a presenter at Al Araby TV, tweeted,”He defeated the jailer.”
Echoing the same sentiment, Samar Jarrah, Palestinian-American radio host and author, said,”Khalil Awawdeh defeated his abhorrent racist jailer.”
Meanwhile, Palestinian journalist Muna El-Kurd tweeted,”Forgive us Khalil, we are guilty…what was needed more than having your pictures spread and your body turn into a skeleton, so that we could rise up for you and all the prisoners?”
Another Twitter user said,”The battle of empty stomachs makes men with high spirits…the battle was increased by the strength of his steadfastness and his will to struggle… Khalil Awawdeh resisted until victory.”
Battle of empty stomachs
Palestinians under administrative detention fight what has been widely known as “the battle of empty stomach” in protest of their imprisonment.
Under administrative detention, Palestinians are arrested by Israeli forces based on “classified evidence” that remains a mystery to prisoners as well as the public. The detainment can go up to six months without any solid evidence though this can be extended.
In January, Palestinian Hisham Abu Hawwash ended a 141-day hunger strike to protest his unjust detention by Israeli authorities. His hunger strike was also the longest since ex-detainee Samer Issawi maintained an eight-month long protest back in 2013.
According to Palestinian Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Addameer, there are at least 670 administrative detainees, 175 child prisoners, and a total of 4450 political prisoners.
Addameer is among the six key Palestinian rights organisations shut down by the Zionist regime last month. Other entities include Al-Haq, Defence for Children International, Bisan Center for Research and Development, Union of Agricultural Work Committees, and Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees.
Last year, Israel designated the six Palestinian NGOs as “terrorist” organisations, sparking global uproar.