Hunger Striking Palestinian Detainee Faces Imminent Brain Damage, Doctors Warn

The Israel Prison Service's director of medicine said that Awawdeh – one of the imprisoned Palestinians who Islamic Jihad claimed would be released as part of its cease-fire conditions – should be transferred to a public hospital immediately

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Family members of Khalil Awawdeh, from right, Tolin, 9, Maryam, 21 months, his wife Dalal, 32, and Maria, 4 pose with a poster of Khalil Awawdeh at the family house, in the West Bank village of Idna, Hebron, Tuesday.
Family members of Khalil Awawdeh, from right, Tolin, 9, Maryam, 21 months, his wife Dalal, 32, and Maria, 4 pose with a poster of Khalil Awawdeh at the family house, in the West Bank village of Idna, Hebron, Tuesday.Credit: AP Photo/Nasser Nasser
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Khalil Awawdeh, a Palestinian held by Israel who has been on a hunger strike for 147 days, is now at risk of permanent neurological damage, doctors said Thursday, warning that his health is rapidly deteriorating.

Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad, which claimed Awawdeh's release has been secured in the latest cease-fire deal with Israel earlier this week, said on Thursday that Israel carries the full responsibility for his health.

Awawdeh is on a hunger strike to protest his administrative detention without charges.

According to the Palestinian Prisoners' Club, Awawdeh was transferred to Shamir Medical Center southeast of Tel Aviv after the Israel Prison Service's director of medicine said that he should be transferred to a public hospital immediately; the detainee was brought to the emergency room on Tuesday, but was released after he refused treatment as part of his ongoing strike.

Awawdeh will undergo testing on Thursday to determine if he can continue receiving care in the prison clinic or if he has to be taken to a hospital.

Islamic Jihad had claimed earlier this week that Awawdeh was one of the imprisoned Palestinians who would be released as one of its cease-fire conditions. "Prisoner Khalil Awawdeh will be released to a hospital within a few hours, and we are sure of that," Islamic Jihad spokesperson Daoud Shihab said in an interview with Palestinian radio on Monday.

But Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev later told Israel public broadcaster Kan that Israel hadn't agreed to release any Islamic Jihad members from prison.

An administrative detainee held by Israel without charges, Awawdeh renewed his hunger strike in early July to protest his detention following a short lapse. According to Hebrew language news reports, little is known about the 40-year-old father of four beyond the fact that he is a devout Muslim, a resident of the West Bank village of Idna near Hebron, and has studied economics at Al-Quds Open University but has not graduated.

Demonstrators take part in a protest in solidarity with Palestinian hunger striker Khalil Awawdeh, who is jailed by Israel, in Gaza City, June.Credit: Mohammed Salem / Reuters

Awawdeh is on his second hunger strike since being detained in December 2021 and, according to Channel 12 News, the Palestinian Prisoners Club has warned that he faces “the danger of death due to his difficult health condition which worsens with the passage of time” and that “dozens” of other prisoners have announced sympathy fasts in order to show solidarity.

His wife, Dalal Awawdeh, told Israeli news website Sicha Mekomit that he has spent a cumulative six years in administrative detention. Since his latest arrest last year, “I have only been allowed to visit him once,” she said. “He told me, during the visit, that he decided to go on a hunger strike because they will keep him in prison for two or three years as happened in his previous administrative arrests.”

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