“This victory is an extension of the victories achieved by the great Palestinian people,” Awawdeh declared in the video, where he confirmed he will remain in Assaf Harofeh hospital until his health recovers and he can stand and walk.
Awawdeh’s strike persisted for six months as he refused to end his strike without a firm commitment to his liberation. The images of his body reaching an extreme level of emaciation and his message to Palestinians and the world only a few days ago propelled even greater levels of outrage and action, with even the European Union calling for his release as his health condition became increasingly critical.
Centrally, the Palestinian resistance continually prioritized Awawdeh’s release, with an agreement for his liberation a major part of the “Unity of the Fields” battle in Gaza earlier this month, in which the Palestinian armed resistance defended Gaza from a series of massacres and assassinations perpetrated by the occupation. The agreement also comes as the Palestinian prisoners’ movement approaches a collective hunger strike to reject ongoing Zionist repression and attacks on the prisoners throughout the prison system.
Around the world, Awawdeh’s strike inspired people to take to the streets in cities from New York, Toronto and Vancouver to Berlin, Toulouse, Paris and Amsterdam, in Belgium Manchester, Madrid, Stockholm, and Madison, while Palestinians throughout occupied Palestine from the river to the sea raised their voices to join with Awawdeh’s for liberation.
Awawdeh’s victory is another blow struck by the Palestinian people and their resistance — at the heart, the prisoners’ movement — for the end of administrative detention. Administrative detention orders are issued for up to six months at a time on the basis of alleged “secret evidence,” and they are indefinitely renewable. Originally introduced to Palestine by the British colonial mandate before being adopted by the Zionist regime, administrative detention orders are frequently used against community leaders and organizers, and there is a growing campaign to force a permanent end to this policy. Currently, there are nearly 700 Palestinians held without charge or trial in occupation prisons of approximately 4,500 Palestinian prisoners, the largest number of administrative detainees in 14 years.
Awawdeh, 40, from Ithna, al-Khalil, is married and the father of four daughters. Throughout his strike, his wife, daughters, mother and father have done all they can to highlight his struggle and draw attention to the prisoners’ cause. He briefly stopped his strike on the 111th day, when he was told an agreement had been reached to secure his release. Instead of releasing him, however, the occupation forces instead extended his detention, and he re-launched his hunger strike. Today, he and his loved ones, the Palestinian people and all strugglers for justice mark his victory.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network salutes Khalil Awawdeh on his victory over the jailer, a victory of steadfastness and resistance that points a compass not only toward his liberation but the liberation of all of Palestine, from the river to the sea. We urge all those who have supported Awawdeh in this victory to remain alert and ready to act in support of the just struggle of the Palestinian prisoners’ movement in the coming days.
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