Agreement Reached to End Palestinian Detainee's Hunger Strike After 141 Days

Administrative detainee Hisham Abu Hawash will be kept in an Israeli hospital for medical follow-up, and the order against him will be revoked

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Palestinians lift banners as they rally in support of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner Hisham Abu Hawash, in his village of Dura west of Hebron in the West Bank, on Tuesday.
Palestinians lift banners as they rally in support of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner Hisham Abu Hawash, in his village of Dura west of Hebron in the West Bank, on Tuesday.Credit: Hazem BADER / AFP
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

An agreement was reached Tuesday to end Hisham Abu Hawash's 141-day hunger strike, which threatened to renew hostilities between Israel and Gaza militant groups over his deteriorating condition and imminent danger to his life.

A Palestinian Prisoners' Club official confirmed the administrative detention order against Abu Hawash, a Palestinian detainee who went on a hunger strike to protest his arrest without trial, will not be renewed, following negotiations between Israeli, Egyptian and Palestinian officials, including Majed Faraj, head of Palestinian intelligence.

Abu Hawash is expected to remain in the Israeli hospital he is currently kept it for medical follow-up until February 26, after which he will be released to his home, Attorney Jawad Boulos said.

Abu Hawash's wife, Aisha Hirbat, serves him tea at his hospital bed, on Tuesday.

40-year-old Abu Hawash, a father of five, was detained in October 2020 at his home in Dura, south of Hebron, the Palestinian Prisoners' Club said. He is currently hospitalized Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in central Israel in critical condition, months after launching a hunger strike in protest of his detention without trial.

His family members have demanded his immediate transfer to a Palestinian hospital in the West Bank. A Palestinian source told Haaretz that his medical condition requires he is kept in the same hospital for the time being. 

Palestinians celebrate outside Abu Hawash's home in Dura, West Bank.

The Islamic Jihad's military wing spokesman congratulated Abu Hawash on the "heroic victory", adding that the group had reached the "highest level of preparedness" for an armed campaign against Israel in the case of Abu Hawash's death.

Islamic Jihad and Hamas had vowed joint military action against Israel if Abu Hawash dies.

Just hours after Palestinian militants fired rockets toward central Israel on Saturday, an Islamic Jihad spokesman threatened an "explosion" if Abu Hawash dies.

A medical report prepared by Physicians for Human Rights warned that his life is in “immediate danger” due to extreme nutritional deficiencies that put him at risk of death at any moment from organ failure.

His hunger strike – the longest since an eight-month-long one by Samer Issawi that ended in 2013 – drew attention not only from Palestinian groups across the political spectrum, but also from organizations and politicians globally.

In the U.S., Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the lone Palestinian-American member of Congress, said that the Israeli government "alone is responsible for this situation and his health and safety."

In a tweet, she added that Secretary of State Antony Blinken must "demand an end to Israel's practice of holding Palestinians living under apartheid in detention without representation, fair trial, or even a shred of due process in violation of int'l law & their human rights/liberties.”

The Shin Bet security service claims he is an Islamic Jihad activist who endangers regional security, but they have failed to provide explicit evidence in support of its allegations.

Prior to the agreement for his release, dozens of protests and strikes took place in numerous Palestinian cities in solidarity with Abu Hawash, including a strike on Tuesday in his hometown of Dura.

A protest was held on Monday in support of Abu Hawash outside of Shamir Medical Center, where he is hospitalized. The protest was attended by dozens of his family members, activists, lawmakers from the Joint List and representatives of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, an extra-parliamentary umbrella organization that represents Arab citizens of Israel at the national level.

Similar rallies were held throughout the West Bank and Gaza.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a bloc of 57 Muslim-majority states headquartered in Saudi Arabia, issued a rare statement expressing “grave concern” over his condition.

Under administrative detention, which is only rarely used against Jews, suspects can be held for months or years without being charged or seeing the evidence against them. Israel considers Islamic Jihad, which has killed scores of Israelis, to be a terrorist group.

Ben Samuels contributed to this report.

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