JERUSALEM: Palestinian prisoner Khalil Awawdeh ended a hunger strike lasting over 160 days on Wednesday after Israel agreed to his release in October, his lawyer said.
Awawdeh, 40, launched the hunger strike shortly after his arrest in December 2021 in protest of being held by Israel without charge or trial, a practice known as administrative detention.
Until he is discharged on October 2, Awawdeh will remain in hospital for treatment, his lawyer, Ahlam Haddad, told Reuters.
Haddad said Awawdeh has subsisted only on water for months and warned last week that he could “die at any moment” due to his deteriorating health.
Egyptian mediators recently pushed for Awawdeh’s release under a ceasefire agreement to end three days of fighting between Israel and the militant Islamic Jihad group that left 49 people dead in Gaza.
No comment was immediately available from the Israeli military, defence ministry or prison service.
Dawoud Shehab, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad spokesperson, hailed the agreement as an achievement, which he said came following weeks of effort.
“We are grateful for the big effort Egypt has exerted to secure the freedom of brother Awawdeh” Shehab told Reuters.
In a video circulating on social media, Awawdeh, who appeared frail and bony and kept losing his breath as he spoke from a hospital bed, said he will remain hospitalised until he regains his health and can walk again.
In another video shared by his lawyer, Awawdeh thanked those who stood by him before ending his hunger strike with a cup of tea.
“Thank you for your support,” he said. “You are a great nation. You are a great nation.”
Two Palestinians killed in West Bank clashes
Meanwhile, two Palestinians were killed early Thursday in separate clashes with the Israeli army in West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said.
The ministry said in a statement that Samer Khaled, 25, from Al Ain camp in Nablus, suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the neck, and Yazan Afana, 26, from Qalandia camp outside Jerusalem, died after being shot in the heart.
The official Palestinian news agency Wafa said Khaled was killed when Israel soldiers stormed Balata refugee camp near Nablus, in the northern West Bank.
Afana was killed during an operation in Al Bireh, near Ramallah, the health ministry said.
A Palestinian official said the death of Afana was linked to fire from Palestinian militants, rather than the Israeli army.
The army said in a statement that its soldiers arrested six wanted men in operations throughout the West Bank overnight.
“During the operation (in Balata), the forces responded by firing after a shot was fired at them,” the army statement said.
“There are claims of a dead Palestinian,” it added.
The army said that during the operation in Al Bireh, its forces were attacked with stones and Molotov cocktails and responded using “riot dispersal means”.
It added that in this case too it had been informed of the death of a Palestinian.