On Sunday, December 19, an Israeli court rejected a petition raised on humanitarian grounds to release Palestinian administrative detainee Hisham Abu Hawwash. Abu Hawwash has been on hunger strike for the last 125 days against his illegal administrative detention by Israel. His lawyer Jawad Bolus of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) had informed local media that due to the alarming deterioration in Hawwash’s physical health an appeal was filed with the court to transfer him to a nearby civil hospital from the medical clinic at Ramla prison where he is currently being held.
Hawwash reportedly faces high risk of death, and numerous public and legal appeals have been made over the last few weeks to secure his release. After delaying the hearing of his case four times, the court finally decided to extend his administrative detention for four more months on December 10.
While rejecting the appeal on December 19, the court said that the decision to suspend Hawwash’s administrative detention or allow his transfer to a hospital lies with the administration of Ramla prison. According to the Palestinian Detainees’ Affairs Committee, the clinic at Ramla prison is ill-equipped and lacks basic supplies, physicians, and specialists required to deal with Hawwash’s serious health problems.
The 40-year-old detainee has been suffering from a wide range of health issues since being detained by the Israeli forces on October 27, 2020. He has been sentenced to three consecutive administration detention terms of six months each, with the last one later reduced to four months. According to reports, he is suffering from serious weight loss, constant fatigue, pain, dizziness, migraine, chest palpitations, and other health complications. He is reportedly not able to sit up, stand or even drink water on his own. He also cannot communicate properly with his lawyers and others due to his weak state. Prisoner rights and human rights groups have expressed concern that he may end up with fatal heart damage or irreversibly damage his kidneys, liver, lungs and nervous system.
Hawwash, a father of five, hails from Dora in the Hebron district of the occupied West Bank. In total, he has spent more than eight years in Israeli prisons since 2003 for his political and resistance activities against the Israeli occupation. He has been held in administrative detention for a total of 52 months, in 2008 and 2012. He launched his current hunger strike on August 17 this year to protest his illegal administrative detention without charge or trial.
In the last few months, several other administrative detainees also launched hunger strikes to demand their release. Kayed al-Fasfous, Miqdad al-Qawasmeh, Ayad al-Harimi, and Loay al-Ashqar ended their hunger strikes after 131, 113, 61 and 49 days, respectively, after reaching deals with the Israeli administration to secure their release. According to estimates by prisoner rights groups, there are approximately 520 Palestinians currently being held in Israeli prisons under the administrative detention policy out of a total of 4,650 Palestinians prisoners. Under this policy, Israel keeps Palestinians in prison illegally for indefinite periods of time based on secret evidence which is not shared even with their lawyers.