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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

The Palestinian former prisoner Khader Adnan works at his bakery in the West Bank Village of Qabatiya near Jenin, June 21, 2013. Adnan is a former administrative detainee in Israeli jails. He was released on April 18, 2012, after being on hunger strike for 66 days. He inspired more than 1,200 Palestinian prisoners to start their own hunger strikes, For the Palestinians, he became the symbol of the hunger strike strategy. (Photo by: Ahmad Al-Bazz/ Activestills.org)

The Palestinian former prisoner Khader Adnan works at his bakery in the West Bank Village of Qabatiya near Jenin, June 21, 2013. Adnan is a former administrative detainee in Israeli jails. He was released on April 18, 2012, after being on hunger strike for 66 days. He inspired more than 1,200 Palestinian prisoners to start their own hunger strikes, For the Palestinians, he became the symbol of the hunger strike strategy. (Photo by: Ahmad Al-Bazz/ Activestills.org)

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 striker and the doctor is significant for the former; in many cases, the doctor is seen by the political prisoner as a representative of the establishment. In the case of a hunger strike, a doctor’s decisions, treatments and ethics (which forbids granting treatment to anyone who refuses it) carries great weight, since trust is critical for the health of the hunger striker.

Former Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan participates in a demonstration in the West Bank city of Nablus in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners who are still on hunger strike, August 1,2012. (Photo by Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Former Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan participates in a demonstration in the West Bank city of Nablus in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners who are still on hunger strike, August 1,2012. (Photo by Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Adnan is currently suffering from pain throughout his body. This week he will enter the most difficult stage of the hunger strike, both physically and mentally. According to the World Health Organization, between the 35th and 42nd day of a hunger strike, the hunger striker will have difficulties moving his eyes, will experience jittery vision, as well as a feeling of vertigo, vomiting and difficulty swallowing water.

Read: 12 Palestinian members of parliament are in Israeli prison

According to Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, “Khader does not agree to be looked at by a doctor on behalf of the Israel Prison Service. In accordance with his demands, we have filed a request for an independent doctor. The request was recently approved, and we hope that the doctor will visit in the coming week. Khader is solely drinking water, and is facing not only a health hazard, but palpable danger. PHR calls for Khader to be released immediately, as well as the release of all other administrative detainees being held by Israel.”

‘Administrative detention is one big injustice’

Adnan’s wife, Randa, has been left at home with her six children. She says that her lawyer updated her that Khader was forcibly moved to a hospital and that he refuses all medical treatment. “I am very worried. I know my husband. He is very stubborn and he won’t give in. This is his war and his last tool in his struggle. He has no other choice. He is very strong and won’t budge until he is free. He demands to be released, since he is not guilty of anything, and because using administrative detention is one big injustice.”

“Many people think that Khader is tough, but in my eyes he is warm,” she tells me. “He helps around the house. He washes the dishes. He is a family man and the children simply miss him and are praying for his health.” Randa says that she hopes that by the beginning of the Ramadan fast, which begins in seven days, her husband will already be back with the family and they will be able to “fast together, but for good reason.”

Solidarity protest with prisoner Khader Adnan, Ofer prison in the West Bank, February 2012 (photo: Oren Ziv / Activestills.org)

Solidarity protest with prisoner Khader Adnan, Ofer prison in the West Bank, February 2012 (photo: Oren Ziv / Activestills.org)

Adnan’s previous hunger strike led to a wave of widespread hunger strikes among Palestinian prisoners, first by administrative detainees, followed by thousands of other prisoners. The prisoners’ struggle has a central role in Palestinian society. In fact, it is one of the only issues over which there is consensus, perhaps due to the fact that nearly every Palestinian family has seen at least one member be sent to prison.

Responses:

Israel Prison Service: “The detainee was transferred to the hospital in order to monitor his condition, where he was hospitalized under doctors’ orders. The detainee is a security prisoner who is being guarded and granted visits according to the rules, in accordance with the circumstances and the proper evaluation.”

Israel Medical Association: “Dr. Tammy Karni, chairperson of the Israeli Medical Association Ethics Board, visited the detainee, saw that the he had comfortable hospital conditions and that no ethical violations whatsoever are taking place.”

Assaf Harofeh Hospital: “The decision regarding handcuffing security prisoners is the sole responsibility of the Israel Prison Service. We cooperate with the IPS in accordance with regulations.”

According to Amani Dayif, who heads Physicians for Human Rights-Israel’s Prisoners and Detainees Department, the hospital takes no ethical responsibility toward its hunger-striking patients: “According to medical ethics, a doctor cannot treat a patient while the latter is handcuffed. According to the Israel Prison Service, the hospital must demand a written explanation for handcuffing. Ethically, the only circumstance that could justify short-term handcuffing is if the person is a danger to himself or others.”

IDF Spokesperson: “Khader Adnan was arrested after intelligence gather on him showed that he is active with Islamic Jihad. His detention has been extended until September 2015. The intelligence will be examined around that time, and a decision will be made regarding further extension.”

Yael Marom is Just Vision’s public engagement manager in Israel and a co-editor of Local Call, where this article was originally published in Hebrew.

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    1. Pedro X

      Baker or Terrorist?

      Adnan not only belonged to Islamic Jihad, he belonged to its leadership group and in 2005 served as its spokesman.

      Adnan’s wife says “Many people think that Khader is tough, but in my eyes he is warm,”

      Let us read and listen to his warm words and see if they make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Khader Adnan was filmed giving an oration at a funeral of a senior Islamic Jihad commander in October 2007. Here are his warm and sweet words calling for suicide bombers and attacks. He is shown exhorting the funeral goers to become suicide bombers and killers:

      “O Quds Brigades [Islamic Jihads military wing] strike a blow
      O Quds Brigades shake the earth
      Who among you is the next Hazan Abu Zeid? [Islamic Jihad suicide bomber who killed 5 Israelis in Hadera]
      Who among you will be the next suicide bomber?
      Who among you will carry the next explosive belt?
      Who among you will fire the next bullets?
      Who among you will have his body parts blown all over?

      See https://vimeo.com/37225151

      This man is part of a group that carried out attacks killing and injuring nearly a thousand Israelis in the the first four years of the second intifada. He is part of an organization that advocates the destruction of the Israeli state and has fired hundreds of rockets into Israel and has helped Hamas fight three wars against Israel.

      Where are the hunger strikes for the victims of Islamic Jihad terrorism? Who remembers the victims of the suicide bombing at a Tel Aviv nightclub, which was carried out by Islamic Jihad? Who remembers those 21 victims, many of whom were young adults or adolescents? Who remembers Jan Bloom, Marina Berkovizki, Roman Dezanshvili, Yevgenia Haya Dorfman, Ilya Gutman, Anya Kazachkov, Katherine Kastaniyada-Talkir, Aleksei Lupalu, Mariana Medvedenko, Irena Nepomneschi, Yelena Nelimov, Yulia Nelimov, Raisa Nimrovsky, Pvt. Diez (Dani) Normanov, Sergei Panchenko, Simona Rodin, Ori Shahar, Liana Sakiyan, Yael-Yulia Sklianik, Maria Tagilchev, and Irena Usdachi, who all died from this attack? This was one of several dozens of successful suicide attacks which Islamic Jihad carried out. Who remembers the victims? Certainly not those who call for Adnan’s release.

      It is beyond by comprehension why Israel would not let Adnan starve himself to death.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Those visiting this page should click on the several links provided above to previous articles by Noam Scheizaf, Yossi Gurvitz, Mairav Zonszein and others to get the full context here. Pedro X is always talking about context. No, I do not find Adnan’s words (if I trust the translation) warm and fuzzy at all–but, sorry, neither do I find the occupation warm and fuzzy even if it gives you a warm glow, Pedro X.

        So Adnan is a fanatic. An extremist. The Zealots and their splinter group the Sicarii and those who ended up at Masada were fanatics too. According to Josephus, the Sicarii massacred 700 woman and children at Ein Gedi. The Israeli side has its fanatics too, and they have warm family lives and bake bread too and their wives admire them. I have no doubt Eli Ben-Dahan’s wife admires him and thinks he is “warm.” Naftali Bennet too. I’m sure Shaked’s husband finds her warm though others might find her a cold woman who called for the slaughter of Palestinians mothers who give birth to “little snakes.” The expressions of their various fanaticisms have as much to do with the asymmetries of the positions of strength they find themselves in—Ancient Jews against Romans, modern Palestinians against Israelis, Israelis against Palestinians–as other factors you’re always hinting at. Look, in the Palestinians eyes the Israelis are the Romans. Among the Jews of Bar Kokhba’s time there were peacemakers and moderates and there were radicals and firebrands. And lots of murder, mayhem, occupier brutality, and terror tactics that I am sure the occupying Romans labeled as such. And people look back and argue about the wisdom or foolishness of a Bar Kokhba. I look at Adnan and I see a fanatic with all the faults and weaknesses, and strengths, fanatics have, morally and tactically. I don’t see him as “a good guy” but at the same time I don’t see the settlers as the good guys either.

        But what I also see is that the Israelis cultivate and manipulate these extremists. Something like this, whether it’s elaborated or implicit:

        “Not too much, not too little. Just enough. The last thing we are going to do is let go of the land so the moderates are to be kept on a very short leash over there so that real peace does not break out god forbid, and the extremists too are useful to maintain the “no partner” position we have and are to be kept on a similarly short leash, and the point is to play them off against each other but not let one or the other gain the upper hand. Divide and conquer. Once in a while it gets messy such as with this pesky fanatical hunger striker but these things are solvable. If we were really serious about peace and letting the Palestinians have the 22% of the land that everyone agrees is necessary and minimally just we would build up the moderates, disempower the extremists, make real and convincing gestures that would win over the Palestinian populace and get real momentum going. We know we could do it but truth be told we don’t want to. We’ve executed far more difficult complex operations when we wanted to. We feign helplessness (but only so much) against guys like Adnan so that we can maintain the status quo.”

        I feel like you participate in this feigned helplessness, Pedro X, when you sigh and say “It is beyond my comprehension why Israel would not let Adnan starve himself to death.” Israel does not let Adnan starve himself to death because it is managing him, just as it managed him when it picked him up and re-imprisoned him without due process on no substantive charges. And managing a public relations game in the real world of modern communications. Adnan is pulling out all the stops. Maybe Israel will let it go all the way, but if it does it is another calculated move in the chess game of posing as the “moderate” against Adnan’s fanaticism, in the service of the real game: Greater Israel. Someday a Josephus of the 21st Century will write the history of this version of history repeating itself. History does repeat itself. Because humans do not change, only circumstances do. Nothing Jello, Pedro, Gustav et al. have tirelessly thrown at us over these many months convinces me otherwise. To empathize with you, I think you’ll say to yourself that the analogy to the Romans is not accurate, that the Romans were REAL occupiers but WE have a true deep connection to the land. True, but so do the Palestinian Arabs. And they are real and they are there. At what point in the pages of history do we stop and say THIS page, this grievance point, this episode, defines matters? Whose finger is upon the page? So a compromise is needed. The world, despite your persecution complex, is only asking for a compromise. Really. ‘Jello’ is open about Conquest and Jewish Supremacism. ‘Tomer’ is as open a settler fanatic as Adnan is a fanatic on the other side. Others will continue to push the idea that, but for your security concerns, you’d just love to make peace (share the land, the resources, the access, the heritage, etc.) but it does not convince.

        Reply to Comment
      • JOEL CANTOR

        Adnan the terrorist has the right to die – and I fully support him in his belief. If more “p” people want to join him in paradise we must allow them to do so.
        Allu Akbar!!

        Reply to Comment