Towards freedom: Palestinian prisoner Raed Rayan suspends hunger strike after 113 days of struggle with agreement for his release

After 113 days of struggle and sacrifice to win his freedom, Palestinian prisoner Raed Rayan — jailed without charge or trial under Israeli “administrative detention” — has suspended his hunger strike with an agreement for his release. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network salutes Rayan and his fellow prisoners on their unceasing dedication to put their bodies and lives on the line, confronting the Zionist occupation on a daily basis on the front lines of struggle behind bars.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society saluting Rayan’s will and determination to confront the crime of administrative detention with true steadfastness at all levels. Reports indicate that Raed Rayan will be released in November 2022, after the final renewal of the administrative detention order against him.

Raed Rayan, 27, from Beit Duqqu northwest of occupied Jerusalem, has been on hunger strike since April 2022, when his administrative detention was last renewed. He has been imprisoned without charge or trial under administrative detention since 3 November 2021. He had been released from his last period of detention without charge or trial only months before, in April 2021. Throughout his hunger strike, he has suffered from severe threats to his life and health, and has been held in the notorious Ramle prison clinic, as both he and fellow hunger striker Khalil Awawdeh have largely been denied access to civilian hospitals even as their lives have been at greater risk on a daily basis.

In the past week, dozens of Palestinian prisoners from different organizations, including Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, have engaged in collective solidarity with Rayan and Awawdeh, emphasizing that this struggle is not solely that of the individual but is a collective struggle of all prisoners and the Palestinian people as a whole, with the prisoners’ movement in the forefront to uphold Palestinian rights and liberation. The struggle of Raed Rayan and Khalil Awawdeh has been echoed around the world in demonstrations and mobilizations urging their immediate release and an end to administrative detention.

We celebrate with Raed Rayan, his comrades, loved ones and the Palestinian people, for his determination, steadfastness and commitment to achieve victory. At the same time, we must emphasize that is essential to keep up the pressure and pay close attention to Raed Rayan and his fellow prisoners. The occupation regime repeatedly and systematically has violated release agreements with hunger strikers, most recently that of Khalil Awawdeh, using various pretexts to undermine the agreements reached through months and weeks of painful yet steadfast struggle. We must not allow them to do this again, and we look forward to celebrating the release of Raed Rayan alongside all those who seek justice and liberation.

Fellow Palestinian prisoner Khalil Awawdeh is continuing his strike for the 148th day and is currently facing severe health deterioration. Muhja al-Quds Foundation stated that he had been transferred yesterday, 27 July, to the Assaf Harofeh hospital and then returned to the Ramle prison clinic after he refused to receive treatment or supplements. They warned that according to the report of the examining physicians, he is at risk of death at any time, emphasizing the sole responsibility of the occupation for the life, health and safety of Khalil Awawdeh.

Awawdeh, 40, had originally been on hunger strike for 111 days when he suspended his strike. Even though his detention order expired a few days later, it was renewed instead of him being released, and he resumed his strike on 2 July. Throughout this time, he has consistently been denied contact with his family and frequently with his lawyer.

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.

There are currently approximately 682 Palestinians jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention, out of 4,700 Palestinian political prisoners. These orders are issued by the military and approved by military courts on the basis of “secret evidence”, denied to both Palestinian detainees and their attorneys. Issued for up to six months at a time, they are indefinitely renewable, and Palestinians — including minor children — can spend years jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network salutes Raed Rayan and the Palestinian people and liberation movement as a whole on the accomplishments of their great steadfastness and commitment to struggle in the most difficult of conditions.

The occupation prison authorities are escalating their attacks on Palestinian prisoners and their movement, from the interrogation of Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh to the isolation of the heroes of the Freedom Tunnel who liberated themselves from Gilboa prison, to the transfer of lawyer Salah Hamouri to isolation in revenge for his public statements to the French government calling for action, to the isolation of Shadi Maali in an attempt to coerce his son. We urge all supporters of Palestine to continue and escalate their actions of solidarity to free Khalil Awawdeh and all Palestinian prisoners — and for the liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea!