Palestinian prisoner’s hunger strike marks 140 days, complications rise

Palestinian prisoner Hisham Abu Hawash marks 140 days of his hunger strike on Monday, January 3, 2022. (Photo: Twitter)
AMMAN — Palestinian prisoner Hisham Abu Hawash has been on hunger strike for 140 days, one of the longest prison hunger strikes ever held by a Palestinian, over his detention without trial, reported by TRT World, a Turkish state owned news organization, on Monday.اضافة اعلان

Human rights groups and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have expressed concern over Abu Hawash’s health condition, which has reportedly deteriorated in the past three days. The ICRC said he was “in critical condition requiring expert clinical monitoring” and called on efforts to be made “to find a solution to avoid irreversible health consequences and possible tragic loss of life.”

Physicians for Human Rights Israel warned on Sunday that Abu Hawash is in “imminent danger of death due to potassium deficiency and arrhythmia.” 

Palestinian civil society, the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian members of the Israeli Knesset have called for Abu Hawash’s release. Palestinians took to the streets in support of that demand late last week in West Bank cities including Ramallah. In Umm al Fahem, a town in central Israel predominantly inhabited by Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, four people were arrested as a protest was violently quashed by police.

Abu Hawash, a 40-year-old father of five from the southern West Bank town of Dura, near Hebron, has been in administrative detention in Israeli jails since October 2020. Such detentions are ordered by military courts and they can last for months without the charges being disclosed.

He is currently being held at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva, where he was recently transferred from Israel’s Ramle prison. According to Israeli daily Haaretz, his detention order was suspended last week, but Abu Hawash decided to carry on with the strike until it is revoked entirely.

The danger of Abu Hawash’s sudden death due to organ failure is very real at this stage, as pointed out by medical experts in the last few days. IRA leader Bobby Sands died after a 66-day hunger strike that changed the course of conflict in Northern Ireland in 1981.

Pressure is mounting on the Palestinian Authority to intervene. Prisoners usually end their strikes after striking deals with the Israeli authorities involving either their release or assurances their open-ended detention will come to an end. However, former hunger strikers often suffer permanent health damages after they recover. 

It comes amid fears of an escalation of violence in the occupied territories after Israel launched raids on Gaza over the weekend, reportedly after two rockets were fired from the enclave. There were no casualties on either side.

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