Israel-Palestine: Family call for immediate release of hunger striker Abu Hawwash

Ramallah - Palestinians take part in a solidarity protest with Hisham Abu Hawwash who has been on a hunger strike for more than 140 days (AFP)

Akram al-Waara

Middle East Eye  /  January 4, 2022

The 41-year-old is said to be close to death as hundreds of others held as administrative detainees begin a boycott of Israel’s military courts.

In the town of Dura, south of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank, a crowd of Palestinians huddle around a fire, while dozens more sit in an empty garage, beneath an array of posters of Palestinian prisoner Hisham Abu Hawwash.

This has been the scene outside the Abu Hawwash family home for weeks, as the 41-year-old continued with a months-long hunger strike in protest against his administrative detention by Israel. 

On Monday, Abu Hawwah’s health deteriorated rapidly as he entered the 140th day of his strike, and the tensions outside his home were palpable. 

 “We are in a very difficult situation,” Saed Abu Hawwash, Abu Hawwash’s older brother, told Middle East Eye from the sit-in outside his family’s home. “Hisham could die at any moment.”

According to his family, Hisham fell into a coma in the early hours of Monday morning, as his condition continued to worsen inside the Shamir Medical Center (Assaf Harofeh) south of Tel Aviv. 

“Around 3am he entered into a coma, and his situation continues to worsen every hour, every minute,” Saed, 43, said. 

“He has lost his ability to speak, he can barely move. The doctors said his muscles are beginning to atrophy.

“His heart has become weak, and they are scared that at any moment his heart or other organs could fail. 

“He has lots of issues with his stomach, kidneys, and liver as a result of the lack of proper vitamins and enzymes,” Saed continued, adding that Abu Hawwash, along with his youngest son, six-year-old Ezz al-Din, both suffer from a pre-existing kidney condition that requires frequent treatment. 

“The situation is very dire,” Saed said. “We are worried that he could die at any moment.”

This week, hundreds of other administrative detainees held by Israel began boycotting the Israeli legal system, refusing to appear in sessions in Israeli military courts and the country’s Supreme Court.

Legal representatives of the detainees had announced in December that they would begin the boycott from 1 January 2022 and that if Israel continued the practice, the detainees could declare a general hunger strike.

‘Unjust decision’ 

Abu Hawwash, a former prisoner who had been imprisoned by Israel for eight years – a period of which was spent under two separate administrative detention orders – was arrested by Israeli soldiers at his home in the middle of the night on 28 October 2020.

“We didn’t know where he was for the first five days. After that, he was given an administrative detention order for six months,” said Saed. 

Abu Hawwash’s detention was renewed once again in May 2021.

Months later, in August, after a significant effort by the family’s lawyers, his appeal against his detention order was brought before Israel’s Supreme Court. 

“On 15 August, after delaying their decision many times, the Supreme Court said it would not even open Hisham’s file until he had served two years in administrative detention,” said Saed.  

Akram al-Waara is a Palestinian freelance video journalist based out of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank