140 days of hunger strike: Abu Hawash in “intermittent coma” as mobilization for his freedom intensifies

As of 3 January 2022, Palestinian hunger striking prisoner Hisham Abu Hawash is now on his 140th day without nutrition. According to doctors who have viewed him, he is at risk of sudden death and serious organ damage at any moment. He is on hunger strike to demand his release from administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial, by the Israeli occupation.

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Protests have broken out across Palestine as well as internationally to demand Abu Hawash’s release from arbitrary and unjust imprisonment. From Haifa to Ramallah, Gaza to Umm al-Fahm, Jerusalem to Jenin, Palestinians inside Palestine have taken to the streets to support Abu Hawash, a symbol of the Palestinian prisoners’ resistance and refusal to acquiesce to the daily violence of administrative detention. 

Abu Hawash’s hometown of Dura, near al-Khalil, announced a general strike to demand his freedom.

Palestinian resistance forces have expressed their commitment to see Abu Hawash win his freedom. Ziad Nakhleh, general secretary of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement, said that the movement would consider the death of Abu Hawash to be an assassination and determine its response appropriately. Hamas and Islamic Jihad political and military leadership met on 3 January in the evening to discuss the situation of Abu Hawash and the Palestinian prisoners. All Palestinian political movements have demanded Abu Hawash’s immediate release.

Around the world, people are mobilizing to demand Abu Hawash’s release, save his life and support his strike for justice. On New Year’s Eve in Berlin, Germany, and New Year’s Day in Toronto, Canada, activists mobilized to support his freedom. On Tuesday, protests will take place in Madrid and in New York City, and on Wednesday in Paris and Växjö, Sweden– with more expected to come in the near future.

Mohammed El-Kurd urged protest actions to continue, noting that Abu Hawash’s family has called for protest to support his struggle:

Abu Hawash’s Life in Danger

Abu Hawash, 40 and the married father of five children (Hadi, Mohammed, Ezz-al-Din, Waqas and Saba), has been jailed without charge or trial since 27 October 2020. As administrative detention orders are indefinitely renewable, his detention has been extended again and again. He launched his hunger strike on 17 August 2021 to demand his freedom. Now, his fellow 500 Palestinians jailed without charge or trial have launched a collective boycott of the Israeli military courts to demand an end to administrative detention. 

He suffers from blurry vision, inability to speak, severe muscle atrophy and cannot move; he has repeatedly slipped into a coma and may suffer from permanent kidney and other organ damage. He has lost up to 30% of the water in his body. He weighs less than 39 kg (85lbs), down from 86 kg (190lbs). He is visibly emaciated and suffering from extreme pain, continuing to refuse food for freedom. The Israeli occupation is entirely responsible for the life and health of Hisham Abu Hawash, now in great danger after 140 days on hunger strike.

The International Committee of the Red Cross finally spoke out about Abu Hawash’s detention without charge or trial on 1 January: Even the European Union and US Member of Congress Rashida Tlaib have expressed their concerns about administrative detention, as has congressional candidate and longtime activist Huwaida Arraf. Tlaib’s tweet highlighted that “The gov’t of Israel alone is responsible for this situation and his health and safety.

Throughout his strike, he was repeatedly transferred back and forth between the Ramle prison clinic — notorious among Palestinian prisoners for medical neglect and negligence — and brief visits to civilian hospitals. The Israeli occupation avoided “suspending” his administrative detention until the last possible moment; now, in a very severe health condition, he is continuing his hunger strike while he is held in the Israeli Assaf Harofeh civilian hospital.

Because his detention was “suspended” on 26 December 2021, Abu Hawash can receive visitors, including his children and supporters from occupied Palestine ’48. However, he cannot leave the hospital or be transferred to a Palestinian hospital. Therefore, he remains in fact a prisoner and refuses to stop his hunger strike — because, as soon as his health improves, the Israeli occupation authorities will reimpose his administrative detention.

On 3 January, however, Israeli occupation forces violently invaded Abu Hawash’s room in Assaf Harofeh hospital and forced his wife and family from the room, provoking even greater concern about the threat to his life. In Umm el-Fahm, in occupied Palestine ‘48, Israeli occupation police attacked a demonstration on 2 January, arresting and beating demonstrators demanding Abu Hawash’s release. 

The Administrative Detainees’ Boycott

Abu Hawash’s case exemplifies exactly why over 500 Palestinians jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention have announced that they will launch a collective boycott of the Israeli military courts and appeals courts beginning on 1 January 2022, as the court system only gives a veneer of legitimacy to an illegitimate regime.

What Is Administrative Detention?

Administrative detention was first used in Palestine by the British colonial mandate and then adopted by the Zionist regime; it is now used routinely to target Palestinians, especially community leaders, activists, and influential people in their towns, camps and villages. While, under international law, this kind of detention without charge can only happen for “urgent security reasons,” Israel uses it as a routine method of suppressing Palestinian society and activity. 

There are currently approximately 500 Palestinians jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention, out of 4,650 Palestinian political prisoners. These orders are issued by the military and approved by military courts on the basis of “secret evidence” compiled by the Shin Bet, the Israeli intelligence agency. These “secret files” are rubber-stamped by military judges, while any access to these files is denied to both Palestinian detainees and their attorneys. Issued for up to six months at a time, administrative detention orders are indefinitely renewable, and Palestinians — including minor children — can and have spent years jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention.

Administrative detention — like the entire Israeli prison system — is a colonial weapon intended to target Palestinian resistance and isolate the leaders of the Palestinian people’s struggle. End administrative detention; free all Palestinian prisoners!

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges all supporters of Palestine to take action to save the life of Hisham Abu Hawash and support all Palestinian prisoners struggling for freedom, for their own lives and for the Palestinian people. He is confronting the system of Israeli oppression on the front lines, his life and health at risk at every moment, to bring the system of administrative detention to an end.

Organize actions to support Abu Hawash and his fellow political prisoners on an emergency basis this week and moving forward, including during the Week of Action to Free Ahmad Sa’adat and all Palestinian Prisoners from 15-22 January 2022. 

Take Action

Download these signs for use in your campaigns:


Join the Social Media Campaign!

There is a growing social media campaign to #FreeHisham #SaveHisham. Use these hashtags and to post on Twitter and Instagram. Post in all languages!  Take action and join the social media outrage and break the isolation imposed upon Hisham by the Israeli occupation!

Protest in your city or country!

Join the many protests taking place around the world — confront, isolate and besiege the Israeli embassy or consulate in your city or country of residence. Or take to the streets in your neighborhood, on your campus or at a government building in your area. Make it clear that the people are with Palestine! Send us your events at samidoun@samidoun.net.

Boycott Israel!

The international, Arab and Palestinian campaign to boycott Israel can play an important role at this critical time. Local boycott groups can protest and label Israeli produce and groceries, while many complicit corporations – including HP, G4S, Puma, Teva and others, profit from their role in support Zionist colonialism throughout occupied Palestine. By participating in the boycott of Israel, you can directly help to throw a wrench in the economy of settler colonialism.