Israel has been forced to back down in the face of a wave of support for Palestinian hunger striker Khalil Awawdeh after images emerged showing him close to death.
Awawdeh is among approximately 700 ‘administrative detainees’ who endure the equivalent of British internment but has finally been given an October release date.
The plight of the Palestinian prisoner, agonisingly emaciated after almost six months of hunger strike, drew international outrage and protests last week in Ireland, Britain and the US.
After being jailed without charge or trial in common with other prominent Palestinian activists, Awawdeh had threatened to continue his hunger strike “until freedom”.
Two brothers, Ahmad and Adel Musa, have already joined Awawdeh on hunger strike against their own administrative detention for the past 24 days.
‘Administrative detention orders’ are issued for up to six months at a time on the basis of alleged ‘secret evidence’, and are indefinitely renewable. The scheme was originally introduced to Palestine by the British colonial mandate.
Samidoun, the Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, said detention orders are frequently used against community leaders and organisers in order to undermine Palestinian society.
Speaking with extreme difficulty, Awawdeh issued a video message to supporters. He said:
“We are a people who have a just cause that will remain a just cause, and we will always stand against administrative detention, this injustice, even if the skin is gone, even if the bone deteriorates, even if the soul is gone.
“Be assured, be confident, that we have the right and our cause is just, regardless of the high price paid. Bless you and peace be upon you.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence, John Brady, reiterated his calls for Israel to end its unjust and inhumane policy of administrative detention.
“The question has to be asked - when does the international community acknowledge that Israel has no interest in listening to appeals to end its human rights abuses of the Palestinian people?
“The time has long passed where we need to see real action. Israel needs to be held to account for its crimes
“Such is the extent, the duration, and the degree of oppression visited upon the Palestinian people by the state of Israel, that is only with periodic incidents, such as the murder of the American Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and the bombardment of Gaza, do we hear comment.
“The daily harassment, settler and state violence, annexation of Palestinian lands, which have been labelled by the UN as akin to apartheid, barely register anymore with the international community.
“Israeli aggression against Palestinians is so commonplace, it has become the norm.
“The Irish government must immediately introduce the Occupied Territories Bill, and pressure the EU to take action that will impact against Israel’s human rights abuses.
“Words without action simply leave those who utter them complicit in their failure to act. We need to see action and we need to see it now.”