JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s Supreme Court on Tuesday denied a request for the release of a Palestinian prisoner who has been on a hunger strike for nearly six months and whose lawyer says is in “danger of death.” sudden”.
Khalil Awawdeh is protesting his detention by Israel in what is known as administrative detention, a practice in which detainees suspected of militant activity are imprisoned for months or years without charge or trial.
In recent photos, he looks like a human skeleton, his skin stretched tightly over a bony framework.
Israel says administrative detention is necessary to keep dangerous activists off the streets without revealing sensitive information. Palestinians and rights groups say it denies detainees the basic right to due process.
Awawdeh’s lawyer, Ahlam Haddad, says Israel accuses him of being a member of the Islamic Jihad militant group, an allegation he denies. Islamic Jihad demanded his release as part of a ceasefire that ended an outbreak of violence in Gaza earlier this month, but did not identify him as a member.
Haddad says Awawdeh, 40, weighs 37 kilograms (about 80 pounds) and suffers from neurological damage. He took vitamins for two weeks in June when he thought his case was resolved, but has otherwise only had water since the strike began in March, according to his family.
“He’s in a phase between life and death,” Haddad said. “According to the medical literature, he is in danger of sudden death.”
In its decision, the court said it “hopes that the petitioner will come to his senses and end the hunger strike”, adding that it was confident that he would receive the necessary medical treatment.
Israel officially suspended his arrest, but he remains in custody in an Israeli hospital.
Several Palestinians have gone on prolonged hunger strikes in recent years to protest their administrative detention. In most cases, Israel eventually released them after their health deteriorated significantly. None died in custody, but many suffered irreparable neurological damage.
Israel currently holds some 4,400 Palestinian prisoners, including militants who have carried out deadly attacks, as well as those arrested during protests or for throwing stones. The Palestinians view them all as political prisoners held for resisting Israel’s 55-year military occupation of land the Palestinians want for a future state.
Approximately 670 Palestinians are currently held in administrative detention. The number has jumped since March, as Israel carried out near-night arrest raids in the occupied West Bank following a series of deadly attacks on Israelis.
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