Palestinian hunger striker Khader Adnan dies in Israeli prison

Fayha Shalash

Middle East Eye  /  May 2, 2023

Strikes and protests called after death of senior Islamic Jihad member, who had refused food for 87 days.

Prominent Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan died on Tuesday in an Israeli prison after nearly three months of hunger strike.

Adnan, 45, was a senior member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad resistance group. He had been on hunger strike in protest at his detention since 5 February, when he was arrested at his home in Arraba, a town in the occupied West Bank south of Jenin.

The Islamic Jihad member is the first Palestinian prisoner to have died from hunger strike since 1992, and the news has prompted rocket fire from the Gaza Strip and calls for a general strike and protests among Palestinians.

Adnan’s health had been in decline over the past few weeks, with his family warning that he was dying and accusing Israel of medical negligence for refusing to transfer him to a civilian hospital.

Israel said Adnan “refused to undergo medical tests and receive medical treatment” and “was found unconscious in his cell” in Nitzan prison near Ramleh early in the morning.

Israeli rights group Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI) said it had tried to convince Israeli authorities, including the Israeli health ministry and Israel prison service, to admit Adnan to hospital to be monitored as his health deteriorated, but was rejected.

A few days before his death, PHRI’s chairwoman Lina Qasem-Hasan examined Adnan and concluded in a medical report that he was in immediate need to be transferred to hospital for observation.

“These attempts were unsuccessful, including personal appeals and court interventions with these parties,” PHRI said in a statement.

It added that Israeli security services also rejected requests for Adnan’s family to visit him “when it was clear this could be their last meeting”.

According to the Palestinian Prisoners Association, an NGO supporting detainees, Adnan had been detained by Israel 12 times, spending around eight years in prison, mostly under administrative detention.

During his times in detention, Adnan was a spokesperson for Palestinian prisoners and went on hunger strike five times.

His first hunger strike took place after he was arrested in 2004, protesting being held in administrative detention, a controversial practice that allows Israel to detain Palestinians without charge for six-month periods.

A 2012 hunger strike, which lasted for 67 days, inspired a wave of Palestinian prisoners held under administrative detention to join him.

Amin Shoman, head of the Palestinian Authority’s Supreme Commission for Prisoners and Ex-Detainees Affairs, said Adnan’s death is the consequence of deliberate policy against Palestinian detainees by the Israeli prison authorities.

“This is a new crime committed by Israel inside its prisons, and it deliberately continues its policy of medical negligence against thousands of prisoners, not responding to their just and humane demands, and turning its back on all international norms and laws,” he told Middle East Eye.

Shoman blamed Israel’s far-right government, which has implemented a series of harsh measures targeting Palestinian prisoners, for Adnan’s death.

“We will witness more martyred prisoners during the coming days and months if the policies of the current Israeli government against thousands of prisoners continue,” he said.

After Adnan’s death was announced, three rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel, falling in open areas, Israel’s military said.

Palestinians called for a general strike in the West Bank and Gaza, and protests were expected later in the day.

Former Palestinian prisoner Mohamed al-Qeeq, who went on a hunger strike in 2016 for 94 days, said Adnan’s arrest from his home in occupied land was a violation of international law.

Qeeq described the charges against Adnan as “fabricated”. He said repeatedly placing Adnan in administrative detention and attempting to convict him were “crimes” aimed at keeping him in prison.

“All these scenes culminated in his silent assassination without the presence of a committee to investigate or offer clarity on his fate,” he told MEE.

“He didn’t have weapons, he only took up the most peaceful resistance in the world, his hunger strike, to reject the injustice of the jailer.”

Fayha Shalash is a Palestinian journalist based in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank


Palestinian hunger striker Khader Adnan dies in Israeli prison

Al-Jazeera  /  May 2, 2023

Israeli prison authorities said Adnan was found unconscious in his cell after almost three months on hunger strike.

Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan, who was affiliated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, has died in an Israeli prison after nearly three months on a hunger strike, Israeli prison officials said.

Adnan “refused to undergo medical tests and receive medical treatment” and “was found unconscious in his cell” in the early morning on Tuesday, the Israeli prison service said.

Adnan began his hunger strike shortly after being arrested on February 5.

He had gone on hunger strike several times after previous arrests, including a 55-day strike in 2015 to protest his arrest under so-called administrative detention, in which suspects are held indefinitely by Israel without charge or trial.

Israel is currently holding more than 1,000 Palestinian detainees without charge or trial, the highest number since 2003, according to the Israeli human rights group HaMoked.

“Khader Adnan has been executed in cold blood,” the WAED Prisoners Association in Gaza told the Reuters news agency upon hearing of Adnan’s death.

Palestinian news agency WAFA reported that Adnan, 44, from the town of Arraba near Jenin city in the occupied West Bank, had refused to eat for 87 days to protest against his detention without charge, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society.

“This is a very dangerous thing that has happened,” said Mustafa Barghouti, the former Palestinian information minister and general secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative political party.

The Israeli government and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir “are personally responsible for this act of assassination”, Barghouti told Al-Jazeera.

“I call it an act of assassination because the Israeli government knew very well, and its military courts, that a person who is on hunger strike for 87 days, who had not received any kind of medical care, could die at any moment. And that’s exactly what has happened,” Barghouti said.

“Mr Khader Adnan was arrested without charge. It’s not the first time. He has been arrested under what they call administrative detention, which means that Israel can arrest anybody without even saying why. Without any charges. Without any proof. Without a trial,” he said.

“This is a country that is practicing Fascism. Israel is a country that is practicing unacceptable violations of human rights.”

A father of nine, Adnan had been arrested 12 times during his life and had undertaken hunger strike action during several stints in Israeli prisons, WAFA reported.

Al-Jazeera’s Nida Ibrahim, reporting from Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, said that Adnan’s family had been warning that after 80 days without food, his life was in danger.

Last week, Adnan’s wife Randa Mousa told Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency that her husband was being held in a clinic at Ramla prison in central Israel.

“(He is) refusing any support, refusing medical examinations, he is in a cell with very difficult detention conditions,” she said. “They (Israel) have refused to transfer him to a civilian hospital, they refused to allow his lawyer a visit,” she added.

A medic from the group Physicians for Human Rights Israel who had visited Adnan in prison warned that he “faces imminent death”, while calling for him to be “urgently transferred to a hospital”, AFP reported.

The group said Adnan “struggles to move and maintain a basic conversation, appearing pale, weak, exhausted and dangerously emaciated”, according to a statement released Monday by the group.

Adnan’s death has been called an “act of assassination”, Al-Jazeera’s Ibrahim said, adding that Palestinians considered Adnan a political activist who had led the refusal of food as a means of protesting against imprisonment without charge by Israeli forces.

“Let’s not forget in 2012 he was the first to lead an individual hunger strike protesting his detention without charges, which was seen as a pioneer act leading the way for so many other prisoners to start hunger striking as a way to protest their detention,” Ibrahim said.

Al-Jazeera’s Youmna al-Sayed, reporting from Gaza City, said that all Palestinian factions in the Gaza strip were mourning Khader Adnan and said they hold the Israeli occupation fully responsible for this “heinous crime”.

The factions have vowed to respond and have called for a general strike and protests in the Gaza Strip, El Sayed said.

“Our fight is continuing and the enemy will realize once again that its crimes will not pass without a response. Resistance will continue by all might and determination,” Palestinian Islamic Jihad said in a statement.

After news of Adnan’s death emerged on Tuesday, the Israeli military said that three rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip toward Israeli territory, but fell in open areas.