Israel releases Palestinian hunger strikers

Palestinians in Gaza stand in solidarity with hunger striker Hisham Abu Hawash (Mohammed Asad - MEMO)

Middle East Monitor  /  February 25, 2022

Palestinian detainees Hisham Abu Hawash and Miqdad al-Qawasmi returned home yesterday, after winning a battle against the Israeli prison service that saw them carry out hunger strikes for over 110 days.

Moments after being released, however, Al-Qawasmi, who has been arrested by occupation forces several times and has spent a total of about four years in Israeli prisons, was re-arrested by occupation forces. He was held for several hours before being allowed to return to his family.

Both former detainees, Wafa reported, received a celebratory welcome from their families and friends.

Father of five Abu Hawash, 40, from the town of Dura, west of Hebron city in the south of the West Bank was arrested in October 2020 and went on hunger strike for 141 days in protest of being held under administrative detention – without charge or trial.

He was hospitalized but refused medical treatment. After days of protests by Palestinians calling for his release, and mounting fears in Israel of widespread unrest if he died in custody, the Israeli government yielded on 5 January and agreed to release in February. He then ended his hunger strike.

Al-Qawasmi also launched a hunger strike for 113 days in protest of his administrative detention, during which his weight nearly halved until Israeli prison authorities agreed to release him in February.

He was arrested in January last year. An Israeli security official claimed his administrative detention was “well-founded on intelligence that was presented to a court” regarding his involvement in activity linked to Palestinian resistance group, Hamas.

Israel detains about 4,500 Palestinians, including about 500 prisoners in administrative detention, an Israeli procedure that allows the Israeli authorities to detain a person without charge for renewable periods of six months.