Palestinian administrative detainees Hisham Abu Hawwash and Miqdad al-Qawasmeh released

Hisham Abu Hawwash and Miqdad al-Qawasmeh were on hunger strike for 141 and 114 days respectively against the brutal practice of administrative detention

February 26, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
Hisham Abu Hawwash and Miqdad al-Qawasmeh. Photo: Quds News Network

Two Palestinian administrative detainees who went on hunger strikes against their illegal administrative detention were finally released from Israeli custody on February 24, Thursday, according to a report by the WAFA News Agency. Hisham Abu Hawwash and Miqdad al-Qawasmeh, who were on hunger strike for 141 and 114 days respectively, had forced Israeli authorities to agree to end their detention. They were among the several administrative detainees who launched hunger strikes to bring attention to the injustice and cruelty they faced in Israeli prisons.

According to the report, the two detainees were released from the Naqab prison. However, Qawasmeh was taken into detention again by the Israeli authorities for a few more hours before eventually being released. Hawwash, who was arrested in October 2020 and placed under administrative detention, launched his hunger strike in August 2021 and ended it in January 2022 after Israeli authorities agreed to release him. Qawasmeh was detained in January 2021 and began his hunger strike in July that year and ended it in November after a similar agreement. He had previously been imprisoned for four years for his resistance activities against the Israeli occupation.

Both the detainees had suffered very severe health consequences, including memory loss, body pain, loss of vision, hearing, speech, serious weight loss, constant fatigue, pain, dizziness, migraine, chest palpitations, blood poisoning and muscle atrophy. Several news reports had also quoted prisoners’ rights groups and doctors warning about the two detainees suffering from multiple organ damage, including to their liver, kidneys and heart, giving rise to fears about their death in custody.

Prisoners and rights groups have been protesting against administrative detention, which enables Israel to keep Palestinians in custody indefinitely through renewing such orders. However, Israel continues to use this colonial-era policy. According to reports, it issued 96 administrative detention orders – 51 new ones and 45 renewal orders – in January. Israel issued 1,595 orders in 2021 and 1,114 orders in 2020.

Approximately 500 Palestinians are being held in administrative detention out of a total of 4,650 Palestinian prisoners, including a number of women and minors. The detainees, since the first day of this year, have been taking part in a collective mass boycott of Israeli military courts, including initial administrative detention order hearings, renewal hearings and appeal hearings in military courts, along with subsequent higher courts. The detainees, under the banner, “Our decision is freedom … no to administrative detention,” are demanding that Israel put an end to the use of the inhuman and illegal policy and start extending all the legal and human rights that Palestinian prisoners are entitled to as per Israeli and international law.