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Placing dignity above food
By Pierre Klochendler
Jerusalem — On the day Israel released some 550 Palestinian prisoners in the second half of a swap for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit who had been held for five-and-a-half years by Hamas in Gaza, an Islamic Jihad activist started an agonising hunger strike.
Two months have passed since the 33-year-old baker and alleged spokesman for a group which killed scores of Israelis in suicide bombings and mortar attacks refused to eat in protest against his “administrative detention”.
The provision is used by Israel to detain Palestinians indefinitely, for months or years, without trial or charges.
Khader Adnan was arrested at his home in Arabeh in the occupied West Bank, on the night of Dec. 17, hours before the prisoners’ exchange. He testified in an affidavit that he was beaten and humiliated during his 18-day interrogation.
According to a military statement, Adnan was arrested
“for activities that threaten regional security.”
The military court judge extended his administrative detention to four months. Defendants can be imprisoned repeatedly for up to six months. No evidence is presented before them or their lawyers.
Israeli defence attorney Tamar Peleg said in her plea:
“There’s no intelligence information that warrants the arrest… the security officials don’t have the option… to put the accused on trial.”
A fortnight ago, Adnan’s appeal against the sentence was rejected.
Israeli military courts generally use administrative detention against Palestinians who are suspected of constituting an imminent risk to national security.
According to the Palestinian rights group Al-Haq, the number of administrative detainees currently stands at 315.
Though harming due-process rights, the measure is allowed under international law if it prevents danger that cannot be thwarted by less harmful means.
Yet, “Israel’s use of administrative detention blatantly violates such restrictions, thus mocking the protections specified in Israeli and international law of the right to liberty and due process of defendants, and the presumption of innocence”,
says the Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem.
This is reportedly the eighth time Adnan has been arrested. In 1999, he was held for six months without trial. He was again detained in 2000, 2002-2003 and in 2004. Then in 2005-2006, he was imprisoned for 18 months, and in 2008 for six months. In 2010, he started his first hunger strike – against his 12-day incarceration by the Palestinian Authority.
Were it not for his solo hunger strike, Adnan’s predicament would be no exception. Over the years, Israel has administratively detained thousands of Palestinians.
In 1970, a group of security prisoners went 65 days without eating. In an open letter attributed to him and released Feb. 15, Day 61 of his action, Adnan declared he doesn’t intend to enter the Guinness Book of Records but to denounce his detention.
Adnan has been transferred to an Israel Prison Service medical facility. His health deteriorating, he has been moved to various hospitals. He’s now at the Rebecca Sieff hospital in the Israeli holy city Safed.
Prison wardens guard him round the clock. Until last week, he was shackled to his bed with both feet and one arm.
“The decision to use restraint on a patient in custody lies with the law enforcement authorities responsible for him,”
said a hospital spokesperson. The “authorities” said the initial purpose was to preserve public safety.
Adnan has refused to be examined by hospital or Prison Service doctors. The International Committee of the Red Cross facilitated three medical visits last week, and four visits the week before.
Adnan eventually agreed to be also monitored by a doctor of the NGO Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I), and to take liquid infusions of salts, glucose and vitamins.
The latest released PHR-I medical opinion reports that on Day 61 of his hunger strike, Adnan had
“lost 30 kilograms [66 lbs] and suffered from stomach aches, vomiting, sometimes with blood, and headaches.”
He was “completely lucid…his general condition is pale and very weak, his tongue is smooth, he has slight bleeding from the gums, dry skin, loss of hair and significant muscular atrophy…his pulse is weak, blood pressure 100/75. He is permanently connected to a heart monitor.”
The PHR-I statement warns that Adnan
“is in immediate danger of death… it may occur suddenly, due to heart failure, or as the result of infection following the collapse of the immune system… a fast in excess of 75 days does not permit survival.”
“There’s no immediate danger to his life,”
cautioned Dr. Raymond Farah, head of the hospital’s Internal Medicine Department,
“but he’s at a critical point.”
Hoping to entice Adnan to stop his protest, the Shin Bet and the Prison Services agreed to allow family visits. His pregnant wife Randa, their two daughters, and his father last visited him on Feb. 15.
“These are my last days,”
she heard him whisper. He didn’t give up the fight.
Adnan’s lawyers submitted an appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court that same day. A hearing will review his detention “as soon as possible”, a PHR-I update read. Mahmoud Hassan, one of the lawyers, says:
“Adnan might die before the court hearing.”
If most Israelis haven’t heard of him, Palestinians are ‘all Khader Adnan’.
In a rare display of unity, thousands of all political persuasions have rallied around their hero with the beard and round glasses.
“Dignity above food,” is the chant.
Other prisoners in Israeli jails have reportedly started hunger strikes. Islamic Jihad has vowed revenge if Adnan dies. In a statement released on Saturday, Day 64, European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton urged Israel to
“do all it can to preserve Adnan’s health”,
reiterating the longstanding EU criticism of “extensive use of administrative detention.”
UPDATE ON FEBRUARY 21, 2012
Khader Adnan brokers deal to end 66-day hunger strike
By Ruth Pollard
Sydney Morning Herald
On the verge of death and with a last minute High Court hearing looming, Palestinian hunger striker Khader Adnan has struck a deal with Israel’s Justice Ministry, his lawyers announced overnight.
Mr Adnan, who was on his 66th day without food, agreed to cease his protest after Israel confirmed it would to release him from “administrative detention” – detention without charge for an indefinite period – on April 17.
Mr Adnan was arrested in an Israeli army raid on his home in the West Bank village of Arrabeh, near Jenin, at 3.30 a.m. on December 17. But his lawyers say he has never been informed of the reason for his arrest, nor whether Israel intended to charge him with any crime.
Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan, a 33-year-old baker, had been on hunger strike since December 18 for being held in Israeli jail without trial. Photo: AFP
He went on a hunger strike the day after his arrest to protest against his detention.
As his condition weakened, the human rights group Physicians for Human Rights confirmed his body had begun to shut down from a lack of nutrients and warned that no hunger striker had survived beyond 70 days – and pressure increased on Israel to either charge Mr Adnan or set him free.
But the last-minute deal is not without its caveats.
According to a statement released by Israel’s Justice Ministry last night,
“as long as no new significant and substantive material is added regarding the appellant, there is no intention to extend the administrative detention” of Mr Adnan.
Israel contends that Mr Adnan is a member of the Iran-backed terrorist group Islamic Jihad. As the details of the deal were being released overnight Australian time, an Israeli Government spokesman, Ofir Gendelman, tweeted that
“there is concrete information which came from intelligence information … [that] Khader Adnan is an Islamic Jihad terrorist.”
When asked to explain why Israel would agree to release a terrorist from jail, Mr Gendelman responded:
“He will be released because his detention period will end soon, not because he’s innocent”.
Mr Adnan’s wife denies he is involved in terrorist activities.
His case focussed international attention on Israel’s much-criticised used of administrative dentention, or detention without charge. Human rights groups say the practice denies a person’s human rights by holding them for months without trial and restricts the right to due process, freedom and dignity.
Israel says administrative detention is “a lawful tool in combatting terrorism”.
“It is sad that only after a hunger strike brings a man to the verge of death does the State announce that it has no intention of extending his present administrative detention,”
said Lila Margalit, a lawyer with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.
“If the state has no intention of trying Adnan, why is he not being released immediately? Regarding the hundreds of other Palestinians who are still being held in administrative detention, ACRI holds firm to its demand: bring them to trial or set them free.”
Israel is holding 309 Palestinians in administrative detention, the rights group, B’Tselem said yesterday, up from 211 in 2010.
About 26 per cent (80 people) have been held for six months to one year, another 28.5 per cent (88 people) have been held for one-to-two years, 16 have been held for between two and four-and-a-half years and one man has been held for more than five years, Sarit Michaeli from B’Tselem told the Herald.
Mr Adnan’s case sparked protests across the West Bank and Gaza, as well as hunger strikes amongst Palestinian prisoners held in jails across Israel.
Ruth Pollard is the Herald’s Middle East correspondent
Source: Sydney Morning Herald
UPDATE ON FEBRUARY 22, 2012
My husband, Khadar Adnan, has shed a light on Israel’s disregard for human rights
By Randa Musa
Through his own suffering, Khadar has helped expose the plight of Palestinians held under ‘administrative detention’ by Israel.
The name of my husband, Khadar Adnan, has now become known across the world. Four months ago he was unknown outside our homeland, Palestine. His hunger strike of 66 days has transformed him into a global figure and a shining symbol of my people’s struggle.
Our life was turned upside down on 17 December 2011 when Israeli troops raided our home in Araba village, south of Jenin, in the occupied West Bank. It was about 3 am when they broke down the doors and stormed into our house. The havoc they wreaked will always remain etched on the minds of our two daughters, Ma’ali, aged four, and Baysan, one-and-a-half years old. I would not be surprised if even our unborn baby will also be affected. Such was the trauma that accompanied the Israeli raid.
Khadar has been an student activist for many years. He is no shadowy figure but an outspoken local leader against the Israeli occupation. He is well known to both the Israeli occupation authorities and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. Both have detained him for various periods without charge.
This constant harassment has stood between Khadar and the completion of his master’s degree in economics. Yet, we remain a normal couple, yearning for the much-needed stability and freedom to raise our children; to give them the happiness that is the entitlement of every child. With my own university degree, I have no doubt that as parents, we are well equipped to realise our ambitions. But life under Israel’s military occupation has turned our dream into a nightmare.
Not for the first time, Khadar has used hunger strike, his powerful form of peaceful protest, to great effect. When the Palestinian Authority forces detained him in 2010 he went on a hunger strike for 12 consecutive days, forcing the Ramallah authority to release him.
Likewise, he staged several hunger strikes in the occupation’s detention camps. The last of these was carried out in 2005, which lasted nine days in solitary confinement.
What drives my husband to pursue this dangerous and difficult form of resistance? I have no doubt it is the unjust nature of “administrative detention” and its notorious methods of torture and humiliation. From the moment he was bundled into their military vehicle in December, insults and veiled threats were thrown at him. They even tried to unhinge him psychologically by claiming I was unfaithful, a vicious calumny he dismissed with scorn.
I know my husband well; I love him, and will always remain faithful to him. He knows this and this is why he spurned the cheap talk of his tormentors.
Khadar was never motivated by personal hurt or inconvenience. He, like thousands of other young Palestinians, is determined to see an end to the occupation. He is driven by a higher logic: to expose to the world the plight of imprisoned Palestinians. Since 1967, more than 650,000 Palestinians have passed through Israeli jails – many of them in administrative detention – an average of one in four in the occupied territories.
Administrative detention is a nebulous and vindictive measure used by the occupation against our young men and women. It is one of the cruel legacies of the old British mandate in Palestine. Today, in the absence of any deterrent or condemnation from the international community, Israel uses it with increasing frequency against university students and lecturers, young professionals and even elected parliamentarians. Some 300 are being held. It is part of an immoral policy used to keep Palestinians in a state of perpetual poverty and underdevelopment.
When a military commander issues an order for administrative detention, no evidence is produced. No charges are brought against the victims, and the occupation has no obligation to give reasons for the detention. This is by no means a legal mechanism. It is simply an arbitrary draconian measure used to inflict psychological and physical harm on its victims. When they are fortunate enough to be brought before a judge, he can detain them for periods of six months that can be extended indefinitely. The prisoners problem is so prevalent today that Palestinians have had to create a special ministry for prisoners’ affairs.
I know my husband is not selfish. This is why I supported him every step of the way. As with any devoted wife, I am duty bound to help him bear the burden of our oppressed people. Our relatives and extended family have supported us with equal fortitude. Indeed, I would not be telling a lie if I say that all Palestinians across the whole political spectrum and millions of freedom-loving people in the world have also stood with us.
The occupation has decided, under pressure, to free my husband in April, but hundreds more will continue to languish in putrid cells under the same illegal, inhuman scheme. Khadar has, however, delivered his message: that this long night of tyranny and inhumanity will come to an end.
We are well aware that the Israelis may try to renege on this week’s agreement – as they have done with the recent prisoner exchange deal – by re-arresting the freed prisoners. But for every occasion there will be a response, and I have no doubt my husband would not hesitate to resume his stoic struggle with even more strength and determination.
For me, the most difficult part of this ordeal has been the knowledge that at any time I could receive a phone call announcing that my husband is dead. But this is the price for our freedom. It is the indispensable sacrifice needed so that our children might enjoy a life of freedom and dignity.
To the free world, the millions who heard of Khadar and supported him by calling for his release, I extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation.
Source: The Guardian
UPDATE ON APRIL 18, 2012
Israel releases Palestinian hunger striker Khader Adnan
We Speak News
Khader Adnan, a Palestinian administrative detainee who went on a 66-day hunger strike protesting his detention without charge at an Israeli prison, was released on Tuesday night [April 17, 2012].
Adnan (33), a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, was taken by authorities to the Salem Checkpoint, after which he proceeded to his home in a village next to Jenin in the West Bank. He was greeted by hundreds of supporters upon reaching his home.
Adnan began his hunger strike on December 18 to protest what he said was abusive treatment suffered during his arrest a day earlier at his home in the West Bank village of Arrabe outside Jenin. He later announced that the strike was in protest of the entire practice of administrative detention in the West Bank.
Adnan agreed to eat food only after his lawyers struck a deal with the state last month, just hours before the High Court of Justice was set to demand that he either be charged or released. The release was as a part of deal reached in February of this year
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