Palestinian hunger striker Khalil Awawdeh given 16 months for smuggling phone despite 'release promise'

Palestinian hunger striker Khalil Awawdeh given 16 months for smuggling phone despite 'release promise'
The 40-year-old Palestinian was supposed to be released on 2 October last year, following a written agreement by Israeli authorities, before he was charged with allegedly 'smuggling a phone' into prison.
2 min read
30 March, 2023
Awadeh, a father of four, was arrested in December 2021 and held in administrative detention without charge [Getty- archive photo]

An Israeli court has sentenced Palestinian prisoner Khalil Awawdeh to 16 months in prison over charges of "smuggling a mobile phone" into prison.

Awawdeh was also issued a fine of 5,000 Israeli shekels ($1392), along with an eight-month suspended sentence during Wednesday's court ruling, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Club, which quoted his lawyer Khaled Zabarqa.

In a written agreement on 31 August 2022, Israeli authorities had approved the release of the 40-year-old for 2 October, after he went on hunger strike for 172 days to protest his administrative detention.

A few days before his release, Awawdeh was charged with bringing a mobile phone into Ramleh prison following his transfer from Tel Aviv's Assaf Harofeh Hospital, according to The New Arab's Arabic sister site, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

Awawdeh, who hails from the town of Idna in the southern West Bank, was in the Israeli hospital after the rapid deterioration of his health in the aftermath of his hunger strike last year, with doctors stating that he had sustained neurological damage as a result. 

He also reportedly lost close to 20 kilograms during the protest and suffered from vomiting and prolonged headaches.

Awawdeh was transferred back to Ramleh prison - where he was first held - after treatment to complete his detention before his scheduled release, which never took place. 

The Palestinian father of four initially launched the hunger strike after his arrest on 27 December 2021, in protest at being held without trial or charge.

While in detention, Awawdeh said he was subjected to abuse by Israeli prison authorities, such as solitary confinement.

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Egyptian mediators had initially pushed for Awawdeh's release under an agreement for a three-day ceasefire between the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group and Israeli forces in the besieged Gaza Strip, in the aftermath of Israeli strikes that killed 49 Palestinians, including 17 children, in August 2022.

Israel regularly detains Palestinians without charge for six-month periods, which can be renewed indefinitely.

As of October 2022, some 800 Palestinians are currently held in prisons under administrative detention.