Palestine: EU delegation ‘shocked’ by pictures of prisoner nearing 200 days of hunger strike

Doctors warn Khalil Awawdeh is at risk of imminent death after being held without charges for months in an Israeli prison

The European Union delegation to the Palestinians said on Sunday it was ‘shocked’ to see pictures of the frail body of prisoner Khalil Awawdeh, who has been on hunger strike in an Israeli jail since March. 

‘Shocked by the horrible pictures of Awawdeh who is hunger striking… in protest against his detention without charges and is in imminent danger of dying. Unless charged immediately, he has to be released,’ the delegation tweeted.

Awawdeh said in the message that ‘this body, on which only bone and skin remain, does not reflect the weakness and nakedness of the Palestinian people, but rather reflects and mirrors the face of the real occupation’.

He added that Israel ‘claims to be a democratic state, while there is a prisoner without any charge who has stood against the barbaric administration detention to say in his flesh and blood no to administrative detention’. 

Doctors have warned that Awawdeh is at risk of imminent death, his body reaching a frail stage after losing tens of kilograms, and his skeleton and chest bones are protruding.

Years in administrative detention

The 40-year-old is from Idhna village, near the city of Hebron, in the south of the occupied West Bank. He has been arrested five times throughout his life, spending a total of 13 years in Israeli prisons.

Israel accused Awawdeh of being an activist of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) group.

The movement said last month it had reached an understanding with Israel to release Awawdeh and Bassam al-Saadi, a senior PIJ figure from Jenin, as part of a ceasefire agreement, following the Israeli military operation against the Gaza Strip in July.

However, Israeli officials have denied this and remain adamant that both Saadi and Awawdeh will be kept in detention.

Awawdeh had spent a total of six years in administrative detention without charge. He is married and a father of four daughters.

There are 4,450 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, 560 of them serving administrative detention.

The highly controversial policy, used almost exclusively against Palestinians, allows for detention without charge or trial for renewable periods of three to six months, without the possibility of appeal or knowing what accusations are being levelled against the detained.

Many Palestinian prisoners have resorted to hunger strikes to protest against the policy and force their release.