+972 Magazine's Stories of the Week

Directly In Your Inbox

Analysis News
Visit our Hebrew site, "Local Call" , in partnership with Just Vision.

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

Khader Adnan plays with his daughters in the West Bank village of Araba, near Jenin on his first day of freedom from incarceration in an Israeli prison, April 18, 2012. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Khader Adnan plays with his daughters in the West Bank village of Araba, near Jenin on his first day of freedom from incarceration in an Israeli prison, April 18, 2012. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

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 duration of the meeting.

When Adnan’s health began greatly deteriorating toward the end of last week, officials from the IPS brought jailed Islamic Jihad leaders Ziad Basisi and Firas Sawafta to the hospital to visit Adnan. According to reports in the Palestinian media, they were present in the room during Edelman’s visit, who unequivocally told the doctors to work according to the laws of medicine, rather than the laws of the state.

Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHR-IL) also announced on Tuesday that Adnan’s life is in danger. The organization stated that “in addition to his abstention from food and additives, Adnan refuses to undergo medical examination or receive any treatment. Adnan’s condition deteriorated significantly during a visit Tuesday by PHR-IL Attorney Samer Saman. Physicians for Human Rights – Israel is concerned that any additional deterioration could lead to his death.”

Khader Adnan plays with his daughter on his first day out of Israeli jail in the West Bank village of Araba, near Jenin, April 18, 2012. Israeli authorities released Khader Adnan on April 17, 2012, from administrative detention after he was held in an Israeli jail for four months without trial. Adnan protested his imprisonment and was on hunger strike for 67 days.

Khader Adnan plays with his daughter on his first day out of Israeli jail in the West Bank village of Araba, near Jenin, April 18, 2012. (photo: Activestills.org)

Adnan is using the well-known “Irish hunger strike” technique, in which he only drinks water and refuses to accept minerals (including salt) or vitamins. According to the medical literature, a water-dependent hunger strike of over 42 days will lead to life-threatening complications.

The road to negotiations?

This past week, two Palestinian prisoners ended their strike after reaching a deal with the IPS. Ayman Sharbati was released from solitary confinement and was allowed visitors, while Shirin Issawi, who was also released from solitary confinement, was able to receive clothing from outside of the prison and was allowed visits from close family members.

Negotiations with Adnan began only in the last few days. His demand is simply: either be sentenced or be released. It turns out that the position of the state is a bit more complex. In a press conference in Ramallah, Palestinian Authority Minister for Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Karake claimed that the Shin Bet made the decision to kill Adnan.

Radio silence from the PA

Until today, almost 50 days after he began his hunger strike, and despite a hugely popular campaign in 2012, not a single member of the Palestinian Authority of Fatah has made an official statement on Adnan’s current hunger strike. While Hamas members did hold a number of small protests in Gaza, the party has done very little to release him. Adnan is a popular person say his family members, which is precisely why the PA is afraid of him.

Islamic Jihad, the movement from which Adnan hails, released a statement which laid the blame on Israel for Adnan’s fate, stating that Israel has a week to find a solution, and that if he dies, the settlements and the settlers will pay a very heavy price.

Khader Adnan's wife, daughters and father walk out of Ziv Hospital, after visiting Adnan, Safed, Israel, February 15, 2012. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Khader Adnan’s wife, daughters and father walk out of Ziv Hospital, after visiting Adnan, Safed, Israel, February 15, 2012. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

And in Israel? Only a single member of Knesset, Osama Sa’adi (Joint List) has visited Adnan in his hospital room. On Monday, Joint List MK Dov Khenin sent an urgent letter to the prime minister, the defense minister and minister of public security, demanding Adnan be released immediately, and asked the IPS for permission to visit him. The Joint List took part in a small protest outside the hospital, while MKs from other parties have decided to ignore the issue altogether.

Both branches of the Islamic Movement also expressed their unconditional support for Adnan’s struggle by holding a mass prayer outside the hospital last Friday (Sheikh Raed Salah visited the family in their village near Jenin). Additional protests organized by Abna’a al-Balad and A’adab Ajal al-Asra also took place in Haifa, Acre and Arara, among other places.

Yael Marom is Just Vision’s public engagement manager in Israel and a co-editor of our Hebrew sister-site, Local Call. Noam Rotem is an Israeli activist, high-tech executive and author of the blog o139.org, subtitled “Godwin doesn’t live here any more.” This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

Newsletter banner

Before you go...

A lot of work goes into creating articles like the one you just read. And while we don’t do this for the money, even our model of non-profit, independent journalism has bills to pay.

+972 Magazine is owned by our bloggers and journalists, who are driven by passion and dedication to the causes we cover. But we still need to pay for editing, photography, translation, web design and servers, legal services, and more.

As an independent journalism outlet we aren’t beholden to any outside interests. In order to safeguard that independence voice, we are proud to count you, our readers, as our most important supporters. If each of our readers becomes a supporter of our work, +972 Magazine will remain a strong, independent, and sustainable force helping drive the discourse on Israel/Palestine in the right direction.

Support independent journalism in Israel/Palestine Donate to +972 Magazine today
View article: AAA
Share article
Print article

    * Required


    1. Pedro X

      Let this vile terrorist, who recruited suicide bombers, commit suicide. The world will be better for it. See the terrorist recruiting suicide bombers here:


      Reply to Comment
    2. Robert

      Why? Those that should are too busy promoting useless pro-BDS resolutions to engage in defense campaigns that really matter

      Reply to Comment
    3. Ben

      “Adnan cannot stand the world he inhabits and wants out. Recall, perhaps, the women in the UK who, incarcerated for wanting the vote, fasted unto death, kept alive by brutal force feedings. Some minds reach a point where they can take no more. Perhaps Adnan has done violent things. So has Israel. Innocence left your land long ago.”
      -Greg Pollock


      Reply to Comment
      • Pedro X

        The US still holds over 100 detainees at Gitmo. They have been given no trials. Even though there is no war being waged on American citizens in the united States of America or its territories, the USA holds these detainees as enemy combatants.

        The US views their release would contribute to increased terrorism against Americans and American allies. Thus it continues to hold them

        Yet somehow Israel is to be held to a different standard. You and Greg want Israel either to release terrorists back among the population to facilitate more terrorist operations against Israel civilians or to take them to trial thereby burning Israeli intelligence sources thereby facilitating more terror against Israel.

        Israel has been defending itself against Arab and Palestinian Arab terrorism for its whole existence. In this context Israel has every right to prevent those who would do harm or facilitate harm to Israeli citizens by arresting and holding them until the threat passes. And when that day comes those they hold should be deported to a third country like the Americans do with many of their Gitmo inmates who have been released.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          1. The two situations are not comparable. 2. I strongly feel Gitmo should be closed and the defendants put on trial or released. 3. I think the indefinite detentions and abuse and torture carried out by the USA is absolutely shameful and a deep stain on the nation. I think Dick Cheney should be in prison. That his heart condition never did him in years ago is one of those ineffable mysteries people contemplate when they ask themselves if God exists.

          Reply to Comment
          • BigCat

            More rants, slogans and empty clichés from Brian….eh….. “Ben” alias “MuslimJew”!

            Brain, you keep repeating: “I think….”, “I think….”, “I think …” ‘I think the earth is flat and the sun revolves around the earth’! Do you actually “think”, Brian? If yes, then make arguments to back-up all the empty slogans you produced under the caption “I think….”. Show us that YOU can “think”. Make arguments as to why Gitmo should be closed taking into account both sides of the arguments. Make arguments as to why men who have served their country with honor and paid the tax used, among others, to provide the food-stamps on which you unemployed fool survive, should be in jail. In doing so, do not copy and paste the opinions of others to substitute for your empty mind as is always the case with you. Get on with it now, you little, big-mouthed psychopath.

            Reply to Comment
          • Pedro X

            Ben said: “The two situations are not comparable”

            Of course he is right. Israel faces terrorism on a day to day basis while America faces occasional acts on terrorism against its people. Jews in Israel and in pre-state Israel have been suffering terrorism against civilians for over a hundred years. The Americans have not.

            Arabs attacked Israelis during the Mandate for Palestine period. Having lost the 1948 war Arabs carried on attacks against Jews in Israel from the Jordan and Egyptian controlled areas. In between 1950 to 1953 Arabs carried on 64,000 attacks and infiltrations into Israel. Arabs continued to attack Israel with terrorism up to the 1967 war and after.

            In response to the terrorism on 9/11 America destroyed two nations. Israel liberated Judea and Samaria in a war of self defense. Israel then embarked on improving the lives of the Arab residents bringing services and goods for them while Palestinian extremists operating from beyond Israel’s borders committed atrocious acts of terrorism against Israeli civilians. Israel offered peace and autonomy to the Palestinians in 1977 and a state in 200, 2001 and 2008. The Palestinians have offered terrorism and sought to destroy the Israeli state.

            The Americans have not experienced the likes of the second intifada whereby Arab terrorism caused Israelis to fear that going on the bus or going for a coffee or slice of pizza might cost them their lives or the lives of their children. Americans have not experienced the terrorism which has been projected against Israeli children and youth. American children in Chicago, LA, Dallas and Tampa do not fear that theywill be killed on their way to school on a bus, eating lunch at Pizza place or while in school. Americans have not experienced a suicide bomber targeting children in baby trams and their mothers outside a synagogue. Americans have not had thousands of missiles shot at its civilians from a neighboring territory. 150,000 Hezbollah and thousands of Iranian missiles are aimed at Israel not America.

            No other country in the world faces the challenges Israel does in fighting terrorism.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Of course Pedro X is right that Israel faces challenges other countries do not, both in terrorism and in justified resistance to its occupation and settlements. But as any number of +972 writers and Breaking the Silence members have made clear, Israel has evolved a quite effective “making our presence felt” form of total suppression and oppression of a population without ever admitting the root cause of the need to evolve these brutally “effective” methods. As Gerard Horton said here yesterday, “Is it any wonder then that those supporting settlement activity in occupied territory devote so much of their time and effort into trying to persuade everybody else that the settlements are anything other than the primary driving force behind the conflict?”

            Reply to Comment
    4. Ben

      “…Personally, I always considered the practice of administrative detention to be the worst of the occupation’s crimes. A person is imprisoned without the chance of clearing himself and without any way of knowing when he will be discharged. The system is so grotesque; even the Inquisition’s was better: a detainee of the Holy Office had the right to name his enemies, and if the complaint against him had come from them, the detainee would be discharged and the false accuser would face the inquisition instead. According to Israel’s system of administrative detention, the detainee is not even given the chance to clear his name.
      The ISA (Shin Bet) often claims that the people it holds under this system are horrible, dangerous people. Maybe so. If that is the case, then it should take them to court and show them its evidence. The conviction rate of the military court system is 99.76 percent, and the judges often allow secret information against the defendant – i.e., information which is presented only to the judge, based on what is claimed to be intelligence. If the level of evidence the ISA holds against Adnan won’t stand even in this crooked system, one can safely assume it has nothing it can show a court,” – Yossi Gurvitz


      Reply to Comment
      • BigCat

        Oh, go get a life, Jerk!

        Reply to Comment