Palestinian prisoner ends hunger strike after 5 months following release deal
A Palestinian prisoner Khalil Awawdeh, held by Israel said Wednesday an agreement had been reached to release him and that he was therefore ending a hunger strike he began five months ago.
Khalil Awawdeh, a militant from the southern West Bank, has been held without charge by Israel since December and had been refusing food since March, apart from a respite of a few days.
The 40-year-old, held in custody in an Israeli hospital, was said to be in critical condition and his life in danger.
On Wednesday evening, the Palestinian Prisoners Club announced that Awawdeh had ended his hunger strike in an “agreement” with Israel.
Then, in a video released by his family, Awawdeh — filmed at his bedside, and appearing very weak — said he was ending his strike because of an agreement to free him.
“I will be released on October 2,” Awawdeh said. “Until then, I will stay in hospital for treatment and recuperation.”
An Islamic Jihad official also cited October 2 as the date agreed for Awawdeh’s release, but there was no immediate confirmation from Israel.
Under a Cairo-brokered truce that took effect between Israel and Islamic Jihad after three days of aerial fire between the Gaza Strip and Israel in early August, the Palestinian militant group said Egypt promised to push for Awawdeh’s release and that of Bassem al-Saadi, a senior figure in Islamic Jihad’s political wing.
A doctor from Physicians for Human Rights Israel who visited Awawdeh on Friday said he must be released immediately to have “any chance of saving his life”.
The European Union’s delegation to the Palestinians said it was “shocked” by “horrible” images of an emaciated Awawdeh.
Analysts believe that new clashes would break out between Islamic Jihad and Israel if he died in detention.
Saadi, who was arrested on August 1 in the occupied West Bank, was charged in an Israeli military court with affiliation with the Islamic Jihad, as well as “incitement and aiding contact with enemy elements”, according to the Israeli army.