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Palestine gets a Bobby Sands

Prayer in support of Khader Adnan, Gaza City
Anne Paq,

Palestinian detainee Khader Adnan has been on hunger strike since Dec. 17, and Physicians for Human Rights now says that his life is at risk. This was also acknowledged by the Israeli Prison Service, which has transferred him from military detention on the West Bank to Ziv hospital in northern Israel, and said he had agreed to take potassium pills. Adnan, believed to be a leader of Islamic Jihad, is refusing all food in protest of his ill-treatment and his arbitrary detention without charge or trial—known as "administrative detention." His wife, Randa, who saw him for the first time since his detention Feb. 7 described his condition as rapidly deteriorating, and that he has lost a third of his weight and his hair. Amnesty International said Israel must release Adnan or charge him with a recognizable criminal offense and promptly try him.

Khader Adnan, the father of two daughters and with a third child on the way, is a baker, and a Masters student in economics at Birzeit University. He was arrested by masked soldiers who raided his home at Arrabe near Jenin in the middle of the night. For the first two weeks he was subject to daily interrogations, during which he was shackled to a crooked chair with his hands tied behind his back in a position that caused him back pain. He said that interrogators threatened him constantly and verbally abused him and his family. Adnan was given a four-month administrative detention order on Jan. 8. A military judge reviewed the administrative detention order on Feb. 1, but has yet to announce a ruling.

"For years Israel has been using administrative detention to lock up Palestinian activists without charge or trial," said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International's deputy director for the Middle East. "Military commanders can renew the detention orders repeatedly, so in effect detainees can be held indefinitely. The process violates their right to a fair trial which is guaranteed by international law Israel is obliged to uphold."

There are some 300 Palestinians under Israeli administrative detention. "Israeli military law applied in the Occupied Palestinian Territories gives the authorities wide latitude to charge and try in military courts those individuals who they believe threaten Israeli security," added Harrison. "Despite this, the Israeli authorities continue to use administrative detention to detain Palestinians without any charges whatsoever. These have included individuals who should not have been arrested at all and were prisoners of conscience. Anyone now held solely for the non-violent exercise of their right to freedom of expression, association and assembly must be released immediately and unconditionally."

Adnan's hunger strike has prompted demonstrations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and last week other Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons announced a hunger strike in solidarity. Last October, 2,000 Palestinians launched a hunger strike against prison conditions. Adnan, however, has become the face of the Palestinian prisoners’ dignity. Posters of his likeness have become common, with statements like, "My dignity is more important than food," or "For every gram you lose from your weight, we gain a thousand grams in our dignity." (BBC News, Feb. 8; 972Mag, Feb. 7; Amnesty International, Feb. 6; Samidoun, Feb. 5)


Khader Adnan ends hunger strike after 66 days

Palestinian detainee Khader Adnan ended his hunger strike Feb. 21, after 66 days without food. The move came as Israeli authorities agreed to release him in mid-April, if no major new evidence is brought against him. The announcement came less than an hour before a scheduled High Court of Justice hearing on his petition demanding that he be charged or released. Through the arrangement, Israel averted the possibility of widespread unrest that was expected if the detainee, a 33-year-old member of Islamic Jihad, had died—as medical experts had determined was an imminent danger. (NYT, JP, Ma'an News Agency, Feb. 21)

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