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Protesting arrest without charges, Khader Adnan is dying

Adnan is held for at least the 7th time in administrative arrest, a practice used at any given moment to detain hundreds of Palestinians. 

Adnan's wife, daughters and father leave the Safed hospital after visiting him, February 15, 2012 (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills)

This is a translation (with slight changes) of an article published in Hebrew in my weekly column at TimeOut Tel Aviv

The IDF’s court of appeals rejected this week the motion of Khader Adnan, 33, a resident of the village Araba, against the four months of administrative arrest to which he was sentenced. It was the 59th day of Adnan’s hunger strike. In an unusual manner, the court’s hearing was held in Ziv Medical Center in Safed, where Adnan is held. During most of the hunger strike, Adnan was chained to his bed; according to reports, the chains were recently removed.

This is the longest a Palestinian prisoner has sustained a hunger strike. At this stage, irreparable damage has already been done to the body, and the patient’s life is under immediate threat. This text was written in Hebrew on Monday, and published on Wednesday, the 61st day of the hunger strike. As I translate this post, Adnan ends his 63rd day without food. IRA hero Bobby Sands died after 66 days of hunger strike. The IRA’s hunger strike was a turning point in the struggle over Northern Ireland. In Belfast, I saw Sands’ portrait on the outside wall of the Sinn Fein headquarters. Khader Adnan is still alive.

Administrative arrest, the legal process to which Adnan is subject, is an extreme and very rare measure in most democracies, and very common in Israel. It allows a person to be held without trial, without charges and without evidence for up to six months, which can be extended again and again. At any given moment, there are hundreds of Palestinians in administrative detention. Even now.

Israel’s military courts are very hard on Palestinians to begin with. The burden on the prosecution is extremely low in comparison to a civilian criminal court, and much of the evidence can be classified, not even shared with the defendant. The military courts have an astonishing conviction rate of 99.7 percent, a figure that hasn’t changed in years. But administrative arrests are even worse than normal military proceedings, as they are used against defendants in cases of complete lack of evidence, or when the military authorities suspect, fear or just estimate that a person might do something at some point. This was at least the seventh time Adnan was put under administrative arrest.

Khader Adnan is identified, politically, with the Islamic Jihad. An unpleasant organization, to say the least. If the state of Israel believes him to be a terrorist, Adnan should be put on trial. Instead, Adnan and hundreds others are thrown into prison, without even being read the charges against them and without a way to defend themselves.

All this should have been enough to demand the release of Khader Adnan (or alternatively, for him to be put on proper trial). But administrative arrests are in sync with the Zeitgeist in Israel, in which every Palestinian is a terrorist until proven otherwise, and therefore not worthy of the rights given to other human beings. The military judge that rejected Adnan’s appeal didn’t even bother rationalizing the extreme measure against the Palestinian prisoner, and simply stated that he “didn’t find anything of substance in the defendant’s claims.”

Regarding the hunger strike, the judge noted that Adnan could end it anytime he pleases. He concluded with this famous quote by Rabbi Akiva, now sounding so morbid and cruel: “Everything is foreseen and permission is granted.”

UPDATE: On Saturday, the EU expressed ‘concern’ over the health of Adnan, and over the use of administrative arrests by Israel

Read Also:
Hunger strike highlights forgotten tragedy of Palestinian prisoners
Palestinian on 48th day of hunger strike chained to hospital bed
Call for action: Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike
Protests spread in solidarity with Khader Adnan’s hunger strike

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    1. aristeides

      The whole world held its breath through Bobby Sands’ deathwatch. Most of us didn’t really believe the Brits would actually let him die.

      Now, only Palestinians and their supporters honor Adnan’s deathwatch, and we all know that Israel will let him die without even a shrug.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Sarah

      The Islamic Jihad is an “unpleasant organization to say the least”?? Seriously? This would have been a great article, but this ridiculous comment ruined it. People have the right to defend themselves against military forces unlawfully (and clearly unjustly, as the article suggests) occupying their land, as Israel occupies most of Palestine. It is the Israelis (the government, the IDF and their supporters, as well as the violent and very illegal Jewish settlers) who are the terrorists.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Harry Abrams

      He’s a leader of the ultra violent
      islamic jihad in the West Bank. They have always been explicit about terminating Israel, so this dude must be some of threat. most countries have laws that permit detention of ticking bomb terrorists, which I’m sure is why the fellow was jailed. There are only a few hundred prisoners like this in the Israeli system, so he must have been caught with something in the works. If a plot to kill many Israeli civilians was interrupted because of his arrest than I believe that that is a good thing. Really…these Palestinian Arabs should spend more time and effort “state building” and figuring out how to live side by side with the Jews than all this hate and violence and black propaganda they do.

      Reply to Comment
    4. aristeides

      Bullshit, Abrams.

      There’s a term for a person arrested merely for being a member of an organization repressed by the authorities – “political prisoner.” That’s what Adnan is.

      There is no evidence whatsoever that Adnan is a “threat,” or is involved in any violence. You are merely taking the word of the repressive authorities, who are well known to lie, to torture, to subvert witnesses and informants. This is like taking the word of the Inquisition when it tortured the Jews – “someone accused them, so they must be guilty, and eventually they’ll confess.” That’s the Israeli “justice” system.

      In contrast to Adnan, Bobby Sands was in fact convicted in the British courts of a crime – possession of weapons – even though it was well known that his real crime was membership in the IRA. But at least some pretence of due process was carried out. Adnan is only asking for that.

      You’re so sure that Adnan is guilty, then call on the Israeli government to produce the evidence. If it can.

      Reply to Comment
    5. sh

      Harry Abrams. If there was a plot like the one you suggest, it should surely come before the court in the context of a trial. Do you really think it’s normal to be able to sentence someone to so-and-so many months of something called administrative detention which can be extended time and time again without a case ever going before a court and without the prisoner knowing why he or she is incarcerated?

      Reply to Comment
    6. Jazzy

      Even if I were against Israel’s ‘administrative detention’, I wouldn’t support this hunger strike. Why? There are two reasons. One, Adnan is too closely associated with Islamic Jihad to be a sympathetic figure (I’ve said this before). If your appeal to the world is based on the idea that Palestinian freedom (to the extent getting rid of administrative detention would increase that freedom) must come at the price of potentially creating a security risk for Israelis, then not enough people will agree with you. Whether Adnan is really a security risk is unknown, but its believable. Unfortunately, it seems, many of Adnan’s supporters are aware of this, but don’t care, because they themselves place little or no value on Israel’s security, and have deluded themselves into thinking that others should or will eventually feel the same way. Their behavior is an expression of BDS cultism/anti-pragmatism. This brings us to reason #2: supporting the hunger strike makes it look like the people who support the Palestinians generally don’t care about Israel’s security, and this will discredit future efforts to end administrative detention. Some people on +972 have observed correctly that, in his condition, Adnan could not pose a security risk for a very long time even if he was released. Israel’s refusal to let him go has become entirely about showing resolve on its administrative detention practices. Ok, let’s assume that’s true. Still, the idea that Israel should have the power to intercede and disrupt terrorist activities before they come to fruition is another idea most people are going to agree with. Cut my two argument above, paste them down here, and you’ll see why this further observation doesn’t change anything.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Jazzy

      Obviously Adnan is an extraordinarily committed person, but I can’t help but imagine that there’s another Palestinian prisoner under administrative detention who is more sympathetic. Maybe save the public campaign for that person. Or is there? I don’t even know. Maybe all 300 or whatever are really close to terrorist groups. I have no idea.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Harry Abrams

      I’m not exactly surprised by the 2 reactions above. But I’m sure there are important reasons both for this arrest and detention and also for the lack of public information around this fellow. In other reports I have read, the authorities aren’t keen to divulge details at this stage because it would compromise their sources and network in the West Bank, which I interpret as other Arabs, who co-operate with the security police for a greater good. Not all Arabs exist to drink Jewish blood, after all. Many would like to see an end to this complicated conflict and get on with things. Anyway to compromise sources at a sensitive time would put them at violent risk, so I accept that this is an unusual situation, and that’s that. If the fellow chooses to die in jail of starvation that’s his business, and really I give it no thought at all.

      There is a huge project underway right now where Arabs and Israelis are co-operating daily and in a very detailed and highly technical project. And that is a mutual project between Israel and Jordan down near the Red Sea doing desert land reclamation and agriculture. It’s not controversial, so you hear very little about it. But both countries are co-operating, sharing scarce water resources and making better lives all around. This is the kind of project that never enters the dream-world of BDS types.

      Anyway, soon that violent fellow will starve himself to death, and there will be very little to show for his sacrifice.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Harry Abrams

      Here is an example of what is being done in terms of mutual cooperation between Jordanian Arabs and Israel per my comments above. Maybe one day this will extend to relationships with others.

      This is what the world wants. Not BDS nonsense. Not flotillas or “apartheid” stupidity. That sad clown Adnan is killing himself and nothing will change because of him…


      Reply to Comment
    10. aristeides

      Jazzy – the same word I laid on Abrams. Justice does not depend on sympathy. Unsympathetic people deserve justice. Members of Islamic Jihad deserve justice. Guilty people deserve justice. Terrorists deserve justice. They deserve due process in a just court of law, and they deserve to be considered innocent until their guilt is proven there.

      All Khader Adnan is demanding is his absolute right: justice. Due process. A fair trial. Administrative detention is the denial of all right to justice. He isn’t necessarily asking for release, he’s saying to Israel – Charge me if you have evidence. Give me a fair trial. Anything else is tyranny.

      I wil add – if Israel’s “security” is such that it can only be sustained by tyranny, then Israel doesn’t deserve security. Speaking of cults, about which you are so recently excited, if there is any cult in the situation it is the cult of “Israel’s security.”

      Reply to Comment
    11. Harry

      @aristeides So did the mothers and children in August 2001 receive justice and due process, when a palestinian sucicde bomber decided that he was going to blow the place up to make a “political point.”


      Are the children of Sderot receiving due process, when they must run for their lives and cower under random missile attacks?


      Counter Terrorism to protect a civilian population does not strictly demand due process of justice every time. And to be blindly bound to such an idea is thrusting one’s neck out to be cut off when dealing with murderous radicals.

      Our buddy Adnan is, even according to fatah, a dangerous radical. So please forgive (or don’t forgive) the Jews for defending themselves.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Jazzy

      Aristeides: You haven’t addressed my arguments, which were about political strategy, not justice or due process or anything substantive like that. Are you interested in responding to me or just talking about whatever?

      Reply to Comment
    13. aristeides

      Jazzy – your arguments are based on a bogus concern, “Israeli security.” I’m not interested in the political strategy here (which I believe to be merely tactical) but the actually important matter, that of justice.

      You can navel-gaze about these trivia while justice is raped before your averted eyes and a life is snuffed out. In such circumstances, your concerns are really obscene.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Jack

      It is interesting that my country,the US, is following Israel’s lead. Administrative detention without trial has become established as bipartisan policy in the US as well as “targeted killings”. Both policies are not only immoral, but illegal under any definition of Democracy, or international law. Both nations have taken a long step down the slippery slope to fascism and the majority in both countries support these measures due, in no small part, to the media failing to do tis job and simply following the government propaganda lime.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Jazzy

      Aristeides: this is clearly a form of therapy for you and nothing else. I have made an argument about how to actually end administrative detention and you call this “navel-gazing” because you sense a suggestion that maybe there’s something reasonable about not believing that Adnan is anything less than a saint. Have fun with Frank Barat on the BDS short bus I’m done responding to you.

      Reply to Comment
    16. aristeides

      No, Jazzy, you have not made an argument about actually ending administrative detention. You’ve made an excuse for for letting Khader Adnan die because he doesn’t have a sufficiently burnished halo to meet your Ziocentric standards.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Piotr Berman

      “This was at least the seventh time Adnan was put under administrative arrest.”

      I this is so, than any theories that he could be a “ticking bomb” or an active member of the organization with any “operational” information are suspect. It seems that he was on a list of “usual suspect” because in 2006 he made some public statements on behalf of Islamic Jihad. Afterwards, he was basically harassed to death.

      There are thousands of people who at some point had some involvement or contacts with extremist organizations. Israeli security machine operates whether there exists new treats or not. In an interview, IDF officer claimed that unless there are 10 arrests each day on the average, they may loose “operative edge”, so they definitely use the list of “the usual suspects”.

      People who are comforted by their belief that IDF intelligence is, well, intelligent, should explain why Abu-Sisi was kidnapped in Ukraine and then presented with accusations that were unusually preposterous?

      “According to the indictment, Dirar Abu Sisi received his doctorate at the Kharkov Military Engineering Academy and studied under Prof. Konstantin Petrovich, an expert in Scud missile control systems.”

      One problem with the indictment is that there is no Russian or Ukrainian last name Petrovich, although there is a video game character with that name. Russians and Ukrainians who have father Piotr/Petr would use Petrovich as a “patronymic”, kind of middle name, and a polite form of talking about someone is “Fist name, patronymic” as in “Vladimir Vladimirovich announced that he will run for the Presidency of Russian Federation”.

      Second problem is that it was quickly established that Dirar studied only power electric engineering. The rest of the indictment was even more preposterous.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Piotr Berman

      I checked what is going now with Dirar Abu-Sisi. It seems that this is a murder is slow motion:

      RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — A report by the Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs says prisoner Dirar Musa Abu Sisi is suffering from various health issues in the liver, gallbladder, heart disease, high blood pressure, and anemia.

      The report says Sisi, in solitary confinement in Ashkelon prison, was detained in February.

      Abu Sisi’s condition is getting worse, and he lost nearly 32 kilos. He told a lawyer for the ministry, Kareem Ajwa, that the prison administration isn’t providing any necessary medical treatment or examinations.

      Abu Sisi said that he has sought to have heart exams five months ago, but the prison has refused to respond to his requirements. He also said he is being held in a 1.2-by-2.5 meter room.


      Abu Sisi is apparently an apolitical engineer whose crime is running the only power station in Gaza and making some improvements when he was in charge. Then he left Gaza and lived in Ukraine, his wife is Ukrainian. Then he was kidnapped. As he is not a member of any political movement, there are no protests. Plus, he is one of many thousands. GoI probably hoped for the second “Eichmann trial”. Now he will die for being inconveniently innocent.

      Reply to Comment
    19. Tal

      @Sarah – You write: ” People have the right to defend themselves against military forces”

      Against military forces.

      Reply to Comment
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