Palestinian Prisoner Ends 141-Day Hunger Strike, Will Be Released

Hisham Abu Hawash, a Palestinian detainee, ended his 141-day hunger strike after Israel decided not to renew his detention. The “40-year-old resident of Dura, near Hebron, has been held in Israel under an administrative detention order since October 2020,” The Times of Israel reported. Israel was allowed to detain him because he was deemed to pose an imminent threat. His detention is set to end on February 26. 

His deteriorating health (a drop from approximately 190 pounds before his hunger strike to 99 pounds last week) pressured Israel to release him. His death would have sparked outrage and unrest, as his progress had caught significant popularity among Palestinians. Furthermore, the Islamic Jihad, of which Abu Hawash is a member, threatened to bomb Tel Aviv if he died.

Palestinians are celebrating his imminent release as a victory. Abu Hawash has been portrayed as an innocent man since no charges were made known to him at the time of his arrest. However, the Islamic Jihad operative has been found guilty of a number of crimes in years past, including his planning of a shooting attack that never came to pass. In 2006 he was sentenced by an Israeli military court to four and a half years in prison for his involvement in Palestinian attacks on Israeli soldiers during the Second Intifada. His history of terrorism and activity for the Islamic Jihad makes him a viable threat to public safety.

Israel found itself in a no-win situation. Some rights groups have accused Israel of abusing its right to detain those deemed a threat to public safety. If they didn’t release Abu Hawash, not only would those critics speak louder, but Israel would face civil unrest from Palestinians and possibly large-scale terrorist attacks. Even though Abu Hawash’s refusal to eat was self-imposed, Israel would look like the villain that would be willing to let a man starve to death. If Israel did release him, the act would signal defeat to its enemies. An Islamic Jihad terrorist who has perpetuated violence on Israel already and is even more likely to attack the nation that detained him again would then be reintroduced to the public, opening the door to more terrorism. It’s disheartening to see the tactics of terrorists win out, but at least it allows Israel to display its humane treatment of all, even those that would have the Jewish nation destroyed.