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Is Israel negotiating with Palestinian hunger striker Khader Adnan?

As he enters his 50th day of hunger strike, Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan’s health is rapidly deteriorating rapidly. Now it seems like the Israeli government may try to negotiate his release from administrative detention.

By Yael Marom and Noam Rotem

Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan’s health deteriorated significantly Wednesday as he reached his 49th day of hunger strike. According to Attorney Jawad Bulus, who is the only person aside from members of the Israel Prison Service (IPS) to have access to his hospital room, Adnan’s health is deteriorating from day to day.

Since the beginning of Adnan’s hunger strike, which he launched in May to protest the extension of his administrative detention, Adnan has lost 70 pounds, his eyes have yellowed — a sign of liver failure — and his urine has turned a murky brown, which is often a sign of kidney problems. He has purple marks around his body, and on Tuesday night he began to bleed and vomit uncontrollably.

This is the second time Adnan has gone on hunger strike to protest his administrative detention, a process in which prisoners remain in detention without having seen trial or been officially sentenced. The first hunger strike was in 2012, when he demanded that he either be released from indefinite detention or sentenced. Adnan went on hunger strike for 66 days, which came to an end after the state finally agreed to release him.

Adnan was detained once again in 2014 while passing through a checkpoint near Nablus during Operation Brother’s Keeper, and was placed in administrative detention. On May 6, 2015, a short while after his detention was extended for the third straight time, Adnan announced that he would go on another hunger strike. According to the army, intelligence gathered on the detainee shows he has direct ties to Islamic Jihad. The intelligence, however, has not led to an official indictment.

Beyond Adnan’s external symptoms, it is impossible to know the full extent of the damage caused by his hunger strike, since he refuses to be examined by doctors in the internal medicine department at Assaf HaRofeh Hospital while in handcuffs. The guards will not uncuff him, even at the expense of his health.

Only upon the arrival of Dr. Leonid Edelman, who heads the Israel Medical Association, did the guards — two of whom are keeping watch over Adnan — to uncuff him for the...

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Israel doesn't need to deport asylum seekers to make them leave

Six ways the Israeli government is intentionally making the lives of asylum seekers unbearable.

By Elizabeth Tsurkov

Since 2008, the Israeli government has been implementing several policies whose purpose is to make the lives of African asylum seekers miserable, in the words of former Israeli Minister of Interior, and to coerce them to leave Israel. Both Israeli and international law prohibits the state from deporting asylum seekers to their countries of origin, leading Israel to adopt the following policies that would compel asylum seekers to leave without forcibly deportation:

1. Denial of basic rights: Since 2008, asylum seekers who reside in Israel receive a 2(A)(5), “conditional release” visa. This document does not grant its holders any rights other than the right to stay in Israel until deportation is possible. Asylum seekers are not entitled to welfare services or medical treatment, except in cases of emergency. While not legally allowed to work in Israel, asylum seekers do work, after the Israeli government promised the High Court it would not fine the employers asylum seekers. Because their visas clearly state that they do not double as work permits, many Israelis are reluctant to employ asylum seekers. As a result the latter work mostly for minimum wage or less.

2. Economic sanctions: The Israeli government adopted a number of policies to decrease asylum seekers’ salaries as well as make it difficult for them to find employment. Recently, the Israeli Tax Authority began collecting a 20 percent foreign workers tax from employers of asylum seekers. The tax was previously levied only on employers of migrant workers who are formally invited to work in Israel. Asylum seekers, however, are not entitled to the same tax breaks as migrant workers or residents — thus they pay a larger share of their low salary in taxes. In the 2014 Economic Arrangements Law, formulated by the previous government before it disbanded without passing it, the state planned on increasing the tax on employers of asylum seekers from 20 percent to 30 percent. Many employers illegally deduct the 20 percent tax from the salaries of asylum seekers.

The 2014 version of the Anti-Infiltration Law includes provisions that yet to be implemented (since they require formulating new regulations), which further cut into the salaries of asylum seekers. Under the law, employers of asylum seekers will have to place 16 percent of the asylum seekers’ pay in...

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In Israel's military court, one's fate is sealed long before trial

For the vast majority of Palestinians in Israel’s military courts, keeping defendants in prison until the end of legal proceedings is the rule, not the exception.

By Yael Stein

A visit to Israel’s military court at Ofer Prison can be confusing. A sense of injustice pervades the place, but it is sometimes hard to put the finger on it precisely. This is because, for all intents and purposes, the Israeli military court appears to be a court like any other. There are prosecutors and defense attorneys. There are rules of procedure, laws and regulations. There are judges who hand down rulings and verdicts couched in reasoned legal language. Nonetheless, as is apparent from a B’Tselem report published this week, this façade of propriety masks one of the most injurious apparatuses of the occupation.

One of the keys to understanding this injustice is the reality in which, for most Palestinians charged in Israel’s West Bank military courts, remanding defendants until the end of legal proceedings is the rule, not the exception. This state of affairs is the main reason that most proceedings in the military courts end in plea bargains, and is behind the high conviction rate in these courts.

With the exception of traffic violations, the military prosecution routinely asks that defendants be remanded to custody for the duration of the proceedings, and the courts approve the vast majority of these motions. Ostensibly, military judges rely on the three conditions stipulated in Israeli law for approving remand, which are meant to restrict the use of this measure. However, the interpretation military judges give these conditions renders them meaningless and nullifies their effectiveness as potent checks on the process of approving remand in custody.

Thus, instead of the prosecution having to prove that each of the conditions laid out in the law has been met, the burden of proof is shifted onto the defendant, adding obstacles.

The threshold for meeting the requirement of prima facie evidence is so low that it poses no obstacle to the prosecution. Military courts accept a single confession or incriminating statement, dubious as it may be, as sufficient for meeting the already low threshold. Military judges ignore complaints made by both adult and minor detainees regarding ill-treatment or abuse during their interrogation, ruling that such allegations should be deliberated only at trial, which hardly ever takes place.

Resource: Guilty from the get-go...

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First, do no harm: Israel and the Druze in Syria

Some Druze in Israel are campaigning for intervention to save their kin on the Syrian side of the border, but the Druze in Syria reject the idea out of hand. Instead, they are demanding that Israel stop supporting the people threatening to massacre them.

By Rabah Halabi

ISIL and Jabhat al-Nusra are fanatical religious movements that pose a danger first and foremost to moderate and enlightened Islam, then to the Arab world, and humanity itself. These same dark forces are threatening the wellbeing and very existence of the Druze in Syria, because of their religious beliefs, which they have held for nearly 1,000 years. If that threat is realized, the catastrophe that awaits the Druze will be on the same scale as that which struck other minorities in the region — the Yezidi and Christian minorities in Iraq.

Members of the Druze community in Israel are doing everything in their power to ensure nothing bad happens to their brothers. Some Druze citizens and leaders are demanding that the State of Israel intervene to help our bothers on the other side of the border. I am sure that they are motivated by nothing but good intentions borne of sincere concern. But their efforts are not only unhelpful, they are likely to further harm the very people they want to help.

The entire Druze leadership in Syria, as well as Lebanon, has rejected the option of such intervention outright — for reasons that are appropriate for them. Even in the middle of an unavoidable emotional storm, we in Israel, must not make decisions for stake-holders who have proven their ability to deal with their own problems, better than we have managed our own here at home.

But along with rejecting Israeli intervention, the Druze in Syria are astounded — as am I — by what appears to be Israel’s support for Jabhat al-Nusra. Clearly, the State of Israel acts according to its own narrow interests, without taking into consideration its friends and allies. But in this case I have serious trouble understanding what those considerations and state interests are, which have led Israel to actively support a murderous, extremist religious movement sponsored by one of the most regressive countries in the world — Saudi Arabia.

Israel, obviously, denies claims that it is cooperating with Jabhat al-Nusra, but the Druze in Syria insist such cooperation is taking place, and there is significant evidence...

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Why is the Left silent on the kidnapping of Mizrahi babies?

In the years following the founding of the State of Israel, thousands of babies, children of mostly Yemenite immigrants, were allegedly taken away from their parents by the state and given up for adoption to Ashkenazi families. The Israeli Left remained consistently silent on the matter.

By Naama Katiee

Israeli society has a tendency to look at reality from the perspective of either “left” or “right.” Sometimes it seems that anything doesn’t squarely fall into these categories simply cannot exist. Perhaps this explains the disconcerting fact that such a serious, disturbing affair — which peaked during the first years of the state — is barely mentioned by either side of the political map.

The Yemenite Children Affair only reached headlines in the 90s due to the uncompromising struggle of the late Rabbi Uzi Meshulam, who paid a big price for his campaign to reveal what truly happened to the children. Meshulam spent more than five years in prison after he and his followers barricaded themselves in his home in the city of Yehud with an arsenal of weapons, demanding the government set up a committee of inquiry. He was only released after becoming sick. Even after his release, Meshulam was forbidden from ever touching the affair again. He died two years ago, ill and alone.

The committee eventually cleared the establishment of any wrongdoing. It is not surprising that the state rids itself of responsibility, nor that right-wing organizations do not demand any real oversight in everything having to do with the affair.

However, the silence of left-wing Israeli organizations is both strange and surprising. During those years, babies were forcibly taken from their families — families who were told that their children had died — and handed over to “white” families (sometimes in exchange for money). This was done based on a racist worldview according to which Yemenis and Mizrahim in general are not fit or worthy of raising their own children.

Yemenite children's affair.

However, the Yemenite Children Affair (in which children from Arab countries, as well as the Balkans, were also kidnapped) has never been prioritized by organizations who claim to represent the struggle against racism, human trafficking, discrimination and oppression. The silencing of those who have attempted to struggle for recognition and compensation for the victims; the destruction of documentation around the time of the committee’s...

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When the criminal justice system is subject to occupation law

Instead of regular criminal proceedings against Israelis who commit crimes against Palestinians, the police cut corners using military administrative orders.

By Ziv Stahl, written for Yesh Din

Yesh Din comic

Yesh Din’s latest report, Mock Enforcement, takes a long, hard look at law enforcement vis-à-vis Israeli citizens who commit crimes against Palestinians in the occupied territories. Data collected for the report indicates that law enforcement in the West Bank is ineffectual, and that the absence of a functional system has led to solutions that circumvent the problem so as to maintain a facade of minimal public order in the West Bank.

Instead of regular criminal proceedings, complete with professional investigations, indictments, prosecutions and convictions — a process designed to enforce the law and create deterrence — the police cut corners through the use of administrative orders.

There are two kinds of administrative orders currently in use:

1. Closure orders, commonly known as “closed military zone orders.” These orders enable the military commander to declare an area closed and seal it off, prohibiting or limiting entry. Both the army and the police are certain that closure orders “bring calm to friction zones” since all parties – Israelis and Palestinians – are removed from areas where a dispute is taking place. This, in their mind, prevents both sides from committing offenses. But because closure orders restrict access to farmland owned by Palestinians, they harm the legal landowners instead of protecting them from potential harm.

In addition to temporary orders issued for specific areas, vast areas are subject to permanent closure orders — mainly land adjacent to settlements — in a way that regularly prevents Palestinians from accessing their land. Use of such closure orders harms the ability of Palestinian farmers to tend to their land and live off of it. In the long term, given the land laws Israel enforces in the West Bank, lack of access and cultivation could lead to loss of rights to land.

2. Individual administrative order issued against Israeli citizens, which bar an individual from entering the West Bank; restraining orders confine an individual to a specific locality or a home. Such orders are used frequently, compared with the number of indictments served against Israeli citizens who commit offenses against Palestinians. The military commander issues such orders against settlers marked by law enforcement agencies following...

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It's time to erase the Green Line

If the Israeli government makes no distinction between Palestinians on either side of the Green Line, there is no reason for human rights activists to do so.

By Neve Gordon

Around 50 students sat on the concrete floor of a makeshift shack, absorbing the desert heat as they listened to Salim talk about the imminent destruction of Umm al Hiran and Atir, two unrecognized Bedouin villages located 20 minutes from my apartment in Be’er Sheva.

On May 6, the Supreme Court ruled that the villages could be destroyed, paving the way for the government to proceed with its plan to build a Jewish settlement called Hiran in place of Umm al Hiran, as well as to replace the adjacent village Atir with a Jewish National Fund forest. If these plans are actualized, approximately 900 Palestinian Bedouin citizens will be forcefully relocated from their homes.

Salim told the students what the village was planning to do in order to reverse the verdict, while insisting that the solution would not come from the courts. The courts, he said, operate in the service of power; “therefore we need to approach power directly; we need to convince Bibi [Prime Minister Netanyahu] to retract the demolition orders. We need to gather forces and protest against this immoral act,” he said.

At one point I turned to Salim and asked him why the residents of Umm al Hiran do not join forces with the nearby residents of Susya, who were also being threatened with eviction and demolition?

Just 20 kilometers separate Umm al Hiran from the small Palestinian village Susya. For over two decades Susya’s residents have been struggling against the efforts of Jewish settlers and the Civil Administration to dispossess them of their small swath of land. On May 5, one day before the ruling on Umm al Hiran and Atir, the Israeli Supreme Court decided not to issue an injunction against Susya’s demolition and the expulsion of its residents. There, too, the government can legally carry out its demolition plans at any moment.

Salim turned to me and answered: “They are in the West Bank and we are in Israel, they are living under occupation and we are citizens. We have rights as citizens. We are not the same.”

Somewhere along the 20 kilometers that separate the two villages lies the Green Line. If once the Green Line was conceived...

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Who protects Palestinian children from the police?

Three East Jerusalem children wait for hours in an Israeli police station — their parents aren’t notified and their lawyer isn’t allowed to speak with them. The case exposes a gaping black hole in the laws regulating the treatment of minors and their representation by public defenders in Israel.

By Alma Biblash and Michael Salisbury-Corech

Israeli police arrested three children — 10, 11 and 13 years old — in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan last Thursday evening on suspicion of throwing stones. Undercover officers arrested them and took them to the Shalem police station, next to the Old City.

Under Israeli law, children under the age of 12 are not criminally culpable and it is illegal to keep them in custody or to interrogate them. Contrary to what the law says, police did not notify the children’s parents about their arrest, and when they arrived at the police station after neighbors informed them of the arrests, officers prevented them from entering the station and getting information on their children.

“The kids went to pick figs. Two undercover officers came and took them to a police car,” recalled Muhammad Adib, the uncle of one of the boys who waited for them outside the police station. “It happens every day — they arrest children here like that. Two hours later, when the parents were worried and didn’t know what happened, one of the neighbors told them they were arrested.”

“The police didn’t notify us before that,” Adib continued. “It’s becoming a situation in which undercover officers come through our neighborhood and arrest children all of the time.”

An attorney called the police station and asked to speak with the children in order to give them legal advice — police refused. Thus, three children were held in the police station for three full hours without seeing an attorney or their parents. Only after local activists began arriving at the police station and members of the press asked the police spokesperson for comment did the officers allow the attorney to enter the police station.

A long time passed before police released the children, first the two young ones, and the “big” one only after interrogating him. It was 10 p.m., despite the fact that Israeli law only permits the interrogation of minors under the age of 14 until 8 p.m., aside from exceptional cases.

The primary mechanism for protecting arrested children is the public defender....

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The occupation is about people, not just land

Israel keeps millions of people under a system of rules so intricate and outlandish that often the military itself fails to make sense of it.

By Itamar Sha’altiel (translated from Hebrew by Noam Rabinovich)

Naftali Bennett posted a photo to Facebook on Wednesday of a vase found in an archeological dig in Beit Shemesh, bearing the words “Ishba’al son of Beda.” Bennett’s point, and his conclusion, was that “a nation cannot occupy its own land.” The phrase, “a nation cannot occupy its own land,” is a right-wing slogan that is repeated ad nauseam – by Bennett and others – and it has countless other forms, such as: “the Arabs have 21 other countries,” and, “we actually occupied the West Bank from Jordan.”

Noam Sheizaf contextualized Bennett’s manipulation well, writing: “the right wing’s consistent refusal to understand that it is first and foremost an occupation of people, and not of land, is astounding.” Maybe it’s worth repeating so the message can sink in: nobody cares from whom you occupied the land. What matters is that for 48 years we have been controlling a territory in which millions of people live with different rights than their Jewish counterparts.

It is not that they have no rights at all, but in order to begin describing the rights that we do grant them we would need to get into the type of expositions commonly found in sci-fi novels, only far more boring. A Palestinian’s life is controlled by things like the population registry which hasn’t been updated in years, the area they live in (a resident of east Jerusalem as opposed to a resident of Area C), who is the current military commander, which military brigade is currently in charge of their area, who is the current head of Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories Unit (COGAT). It’s so long, bureaucratic and convoluted that it becomes nearly impossible to describe to Israelis what the life of a Palestinian looks like; they would to understand too many details that are completely absent from their own lives.

Israelis can catch a glimpse into this kind of life through the regular news articles about easements for Palestinians. The current head of COGAT, Major General Yoav Mordechai (who is turning out to be an improvement from his predecessor Maj.-Gen. Eitan Dangot), announced a series of measures for Ramadan meant to make Palestinians’ lives easier. For example, as...

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Occupation is the problem, not the people talking about it

Israel’s Foreign Ministry is going after Israeli human rights and anti-occupation activists overseas. Doing so will only make things worse for Israel.

By Ilan Baruch

It’s been less than a month since Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely instructed Israeli embassies abroad to explain to the nations of the world that the land of Israel is ours in its entirety. Global hostility toward Israel, she insisted, does not stem from the occupation or settlements.

Now, we have learned that she instructed the Israeli embassy in Switzerland to attempt to cancel a “Breaking the Silence” exhibition in Zurich. The exhibition presents soldiers’ testimonies on their experiences during their military service regarding the daily reality in the occupied territories.

In this fashion, Hotovely compelled the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to conduct a right-wing political campaign, which aims to eliminate any opposition to the ongoing occupation and settlement expansion. Leaders of this campaign, both in the Knesset and elsewhere, seek to perpetuate the occupation indefinitely. They aim to do so through complete integration of the occupied territories into Israel proper, by deepening Israeli military control over the territories, and through expanding settlements.

As such, they repeatedly attack organizations that oppose the occupation, accusing them of “delegitimizing” Israel with their public criticism abroad. This, in turn, condemns soldiers of conscience — who are merely exercising their right and duty to expose a reality that isn’t debated publicly — as enemies of Israel.

Having served in the foreign service for most of my adult life, and as a citizen concerned for the strength of Israel, I cannot remain silent about the severe damage this campaign has on Israel’s standing in the world. Criticism of Israel in Europe, the United Nations and the United States is not about the multiplicity of opinions in Israel. They are not concerned with those Israelis trying to prevent human rights violations and trying to end the occupation. The recurring criticism toward Israel harks back to one topic: the denial of liberty to the Palestinian people in the name of conquest through settlements.

It is important to understand that this criticism will not go away by silencing Israeli human rights organizations. The international community has opposed military control over the West Bank’s civilian Palestinian population for nearly half a century. When Israel acts contrarily to the spirit of democracy and freedom of expression, in silencing opinions that oppose...

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Interview: The man behind the BDS movement

(This article was first published in Arabic on Bokra)

Omar Barghouti is one of the most infamous names in pro-Israel and Israeli government circles at the moment. Officials have portrayed this Palestinian human rights activist and leader of the BDS movement — which he co-founded a decade ago and now leads — as a threat to the State of Israel. How big of a threat? Well, just last week the country’s best-selling newspaper, Yedioth Ahronot, featured a front-page story about him, dubbing him “Explosive Omar.” And if he and his boycott movement are giving both Zionist officials and their media a panic attack, one can only assume he is doing something right.

“Is this the Renaissance era for BDS?” I ask him in a phone call. He laughs and tells me that there is still much to come.

Yet Barghouti, 51, refuses to respond to his accusers — he maintains a boycott of the Israeli media. He was willing to conduct this rare interview due to my Palestinian identity and under the condition that it be published first in Arabic, on Palestinian website “Bokra” – although it is also being published in English here on +972 Magazine and in Hebrew on Local Call, where I am a blogger. Unified trilingual anti-Zionism at its best, I must add.

Barghouti explains his choice to not speak with the Israeli media and the logic behind the more general call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel as a whole: “In every other situation of sustained oppression, human rights groups call for punitive measures against the state and its institutions, not just against a narrow component of the state that is directly connected to the injustice at hand. No one called for banning products of Sudanese companies producing in Darfur in response to the Sudanese regime’s war crimes there. Sudan as a whole was targeted.

“As Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said, Israel is put on a pedestal in the West, and treated as if it were above international law. BDS seeks to end this Israeli exceptionalism and criminal impunity. Israel must be treated like any other state committing similarly egregious crimes.”

The BDS movement was launched on July 9, 2005 when a broad alliance of more than 170 Palestinian political parties, trade unions, refugee networks, NGOs and grassroots associations published an open boycott call...

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A court of non-convictions when the victim is Palestinian

When Israelis are accused of victimizing Palestinians, nearly 25% of convictions are simply thrown out — to avoid tarring the criminal with a criminal record.

By Yossi Gurvitz, written for Yesh Din

Every year Yesh Din publishes data about police investigative failures regarding crimes carried out by Israelis against Palestinians in the West Bank. They are usually quite similar: the police fails to investigate approximately 85 percent of complaints by Palestinians who report being harmed by Israelis. The rate becomes much higher when it comes to the destruction of Palestinian trees by Israeli civilians: that’s when the police failure rate reaches 97.4 percent.

The average Israeli may not be surprised to find that the police failure rates are so high, but he or she still has some expectations of the courts. After all, we are told time and again that Israel is governed by the rule of law.

Okay, the average citizen says to himself, we seem to have a problem when it comes to investigations, and naturally, if the investigation is a mess we are not likely to get to court. But once we step into the halls of justice, everything should be fine.

Or not.

Yesh Din’s latest data sheet, which was released in tandem with an exhaustive report on the failure of law enforcement in the West Bank, examines for the first time what happens to the cases the organization follows once they leave the limbo of the prosecution and make it to court. The situation, to put it mildly, is not “okay.”

To begin with, the chances that a complaint by a Palestinian victim will develop into an indictment against an Israeli felony suspect stands at a mere 7.4 percent. This means that the chances that an Israeli will appear in court for a crime he is suspected of committing is around 1 in 14. Most often, cases are closed due to police investigative failures; in a majority of the cases, the reason cited is the inability of the police to find a suspect – what is known as the the “unknown perpetrator clause.”

The fact that a case makes it to court does not, of course, mean it will end in a conviction. The defendants have the right to representation and have access to attorneys — as a human rights organization we entirely support this. The problem lies elsewhere.

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Palestinian prisoner nears 40th day of hunger strike

Khader Adnan, who became the symbol of Palestinian administrative detainees after refusing food for 66 days in 2011, is once again on hunger strike. Adnan’s wife: ‘He has no other choice. He is very strong and won’t budge until he is free.’

By Yael Marom

Khader Adnan, the symbol of Palestinian administrative detainees, is once again on hunger strike, having refused to eat for the past 37 days. He was transferred last Thursday to Assaf Harofeh hospital near Rishon LeZion, where he is being handcuffed to his bed by his legs and hands. Adnan, a baker from the West Bank village of Araba is striking against his prolonged detention with no indictment after being arrested in July 2014. His administrative detention was extended for a second time on May 6.

Adnan’s 2011 hunger strike ended in victory, after he refused food for 66 straight days. Israel decided to release him at the last minute before his administrative detention was up, after which Adnan ended his strike. Thus, the man who upon beginning his hunger strike was described by Israel as a “dangerous terrorist belonging to Islamic Jihad” was eventually released, after the state was unable to present evidence or put together an indictment. (Full disclosure: At the time I was the spokesperson for Physicians for Human Rights, which was very active in the struggle for his release.)

Adnan was re-arrested last summer during the IDF operation in the West Bank following the murder of three Jewish teenagers. The former administrative detainees — who were released after a successful hunger strike — were the first to return to Israeli prisons. Adnan was once again placed in administrative detention, without knowing what he was charged with, without the chance to prove his innocence, all while the state has the power to perpetually extend his detention every six months. On May 6, when his administrative detention was extended for the third consecutive time, Adnan announced that he would use the only nonviolent tool at his disposal and go on hunger strike.

Adnan’s hunger strike is considered a “full strike,” meaning that he refuses food, salts or additives, and drinks only water. He is also refusing all medical treatment by the Israel Prison Service or the hospital, and is demanding to be treated by an independent doctor. Creating a situation of mistrust between the hunger...

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+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

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