Palestinians celebrate ‘victory’ after detainee ends hunger strike

The PA leadership claimed that the agreement was reached thanks to efforts made by Majed Faraj, head of the Palestinian General Intelligence Service.

ISLAMIC JIHAD terrorists ride on pickup trucks during a symbolic funeral for Ramadan Shallah, a former leader of their group, in Gaza City on June 7 (photo credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/ REUTERS)
ISLAMIC JIHAD terrorists ride on pickup trucks during a symbolic funeral for Ramadan Shallah, a former leader of their group, in Gaza City on June 7
(photo credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/ REUTERS)

The Palestinian Authority is seeking to take credit for the deal that ended the hunger strike of Palestinian detainee Hisham Abu Hawash.

Abu Hawash suspended his hunger strike on Tuesday evening after an agreement was reached with Israeli authorities according to which he would be released on February 26. Abu Hawash had refused food for 141 days.

Palestinian sources said the agreement stipulates that Abu Hawash’s administrative detention would not be extended, meaning he would be released next month. He was being held in detention without trial since October 2020.

The agreement has been hailed by many Palestinians as a “victory” for the detainee and all Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons.

Palestinians in Abu Hawash’s hometown of Dura, near Hebron, celebrated the agreement by handing out sweets and describing him as a “hero.”

 Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh and Islamic Jihad Chief Ziyad al-Nakhalah attend the Palestinian factions' meeting over Israel and the United Arab Emirates' deal to normalise ties, in Beirut, Lebanon September 3, 2020 (credit: AZIZ TAHER/REUTERS) Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh and Islamic Jihad Chief Ziyad al-Nakhalah attend the Palestinian factions' meeting over Israel and the United Arab Emirates' deal to normalise ties, in Beirut, Lebanon September 3, 2020 (credit: AZIZ TAHER/REUTERS)

“I want to thank all the Palestinians who supported my husband during the hunger strike,” Abu Hawash’s wife, Aisha, told reporters. “This is a big victory and a gift to the Palestinian resistance in the Gaza Strip and all the Palestinian prisoners [held in Israeli prisons].”

Leaders of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian groups had threatened retaliation against Israel if Abu Hawash died as a result of his hunger strike. The PIJ said it would consider his death an “assassination” and react accordingly.

PIJ and several groups said on Wednesday that they see the agreement that was reached with the detainee as “capitulation” on the part of Israel following their threats.

The PA leadership claimed the agreement was reached thanks to efforts made by Majed Faraj, head of the Palestinian General Intelligence Service. According to the PA leadership, Faraj exerted pressure on Israel to strike the deal with Abu Hawash “on direct instructions” from PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

The PA’s Palestine TV broadcast a video of a phone conversation between Abbas and a “spokesman” for the Abu Hawash family who thanked the PA president for his efforts to reach the agreement that ended the hunger strike.

“We want to thank you for your blessed efforts,” the family’s spokesman told Abbas in a phone call.

Abbas told the spokesman that Abu Hawash is the son of all the Palestinians.

“We are responsible for him,” Abbas said. “By God’s will, we will all be victorious. All the prisoners will achieve victory and be released. By God’s will, Palestine and its capital, Jerusalem, will be liberated.”

The PA leadership’s attempt to present itself as the sponsor of the agreement is seen by Palestinian political activists in the context of its efforts to bolster its standing among the Palestinian public, especially in light of widespread criticism over the recent meeting between Abbas and Defense Minister Benny Gantz and ongoing security coordination between the Palestinian security forces and the IDF in the West Bank.

According to the activists, the Palestinian leadership was also worried that the death of Abu Hawash in Israeli detention would trigger protests in the West Bank against Israel and the PA.

PIJ secretary-general Ziyad al-Nakhalah phoned Abu Hawash’s wife to congratulate her on her husband’s “victory.”

Nasser Abu Sharif, a senior PIJ official, claimed the agreement with Abu Hawash was reached mainly because of his group’s threats against Israel.

Hamas also praised the end of the hunger strike, describing it as a “legendary victory in the face of the terrorism and arrogance of the occupation.

“We consider this victory as part of the steadfastness of our Palestinian people in the face of the occupation,” Hamas said in a statement. “This victory shows the strength and capabilities of our people and their prisoners in winning all their battles” against Israel.