Islamic Jihad vows military response against Israel if Palestinian hunger striker dies

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Islamic Jihad has vowed military action against Israel if Palestinian prisoner Hisham Abu Hawash, who is on a hunger strike, dies.

Abu Hawash has been on a hunger strike in Israeli custody for more than four months in protest of his detention without trial.

Islamic Jihad spokesman Daoud Shihab said Monday in an interview with Radio Ashams that “all options are on the table. We are in urgent contact with Egyptian mediators in order to prevent an escalation that Israel is pushing for.”

Senior Islamic Jihad official Khaled al-Batash said at a meeting Monday between senior officials from Hamas and Islamic Jihad that if Abu Hawash dies, there would be a joint response from all factions in Gaza, including Hamas’ military wing.

Hisham Abu Hawash’s children at a rally in his village of Dura in the West Bank, on Sunday.Hazem Bader / AFP

Meanwhile, dozens of protests and strikes are taking place in Palestinian cities in solidarity with Abu Hawash, including a planned strike on Tuesday in his hometown of Dura.

A protest was held on Monday in support of Abu Hawash outside of Shamir Medical Center, where he is hospitalized. The protest was attended by dozens of his family members, activists, lawmakers from the Joint List and representatives of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, an extra-parliamentary umbrella organization that represents Arab citizens of Israel at the national level.

Similar rallies have been held throughout the West Bank and Gaza.

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Abu Hawash’s family members are demanding his immediate release and transfer to a West Bank hospital.

A protest in solidarity with Hisham Abu Hawash in Ramallah, on Sunday.Majdi Mohammed / AP

While Israel temporarily suspended Abu Hawash‘s administrative detention order this week on account of his dire condition, he has carried on with his strike – the longest since an eight-month-long one by Samer Issawi that ended in 2013 – as long as the detention order is not revoked entirely.

A medical report prepared by Physicians for Human Rights warned that his life is in “immediate danger” due to extreme nutritional deficiencies that put him at risk of death at any moment from organ failure. Lawyer Jawad Bulus of the Palestinian Prisoners Society also said that Abu Hawash’s life is in serious danger.

Abu Hawash, 40, from the town of Dura near Hebron, was detained on October 27, 2020. Immediately after his arrest, an administrative detention order was issued against him for a period of six months and was renewed several times.

The Shin Bet security service claims he is an Islamic Jihad activist who endangers regional security. To date, the Shin Bet has not provided explicit evidence in support of its allegations. Abu Hawash, who under police questioning denied the general suspicions against him, has not received a court hearing as part of Israel’s administrative detention policy.

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