Palestinian hunger striker Khader Adnan ‘dying’ in Israeli prison after 67 days of hunger strike

Fayha Shalash

Middle East Eye  /  April 12, 2023

Health of senior leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad is deteriorating fast as he reaches 67th day of fifth hunger strike.

Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan is “dying” in an Israeli prison clinic after 67 days on hunger strike, his wife and brother said on Wednesday. 

A senior member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, 44-year-old Adnan has been on hunger strike to protest against his detention in Israeli prisons ever since he was arrested in an Israeli raid on his home on 5 February. 

His health has seriously deteriorated over the 67 days, with his wife Randa Moussa telling a press conference in Ramallah on Wednesday that he has fainted more than once and is suffering from severe dizziness and general weakness.

“My husband is dying and the Israeli prison administration refuses to transfer him to a civilian hospital,” Moussa said. “Rather, it keeps him in Ramla prison, which lacks the minimum health facilities. We have asked more than once to transfer him to a hospital, but the request is always denied.” 

Adnan has been imprisoned at least 11 times since 2004 and was a spokesperson for Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli jails. 

His first hunger strike came after his arrest in 2004, to protest at being held in administrative detention, a controversial practice that allows Israel to detain Palestinians without charge for six-month periods.

The hunger strike is seen by many as a symbol of Palestinian resistance, and this is the fifth Adnan has undertaken during detention, with one 67-day stretch in 2012 inspiring a wave of Palestinian prisoners held under administrative detention to join him.

‘Fabricated charges’

Palestinian Islamic Jihad has been designated a terrorist organisation by Israel, the United States and the European Union. Israel has repeatedly held Adnan in administrative detention over the years, citing reasons such as “activities that threaten regional security”. 

His family, who have always denied that he is involved in militant activity, say that while this time Adnan has not been transferred to administrative detention, Israeli prosecutors have instead fabricated several charges against him to imprison him. 

Adnan began his latest hunger strike from the moment of his arrest at home in the town of Arraba, south of Jenin in the occupied West Bank. This was a way of refusing the arrest, and his trial has been postponed several times since then.

Mohammed Adnan, Adnan’s brother, said during the press conference that a lawyer from the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association had visited Adnan in the Ramla Prison Clinic, where he is being held, on Tuesday. The lawyer updated the family on his health condition.

“In addition to frequent fainting, my brother suffers from hearing and vision impairment, severe pressure in the chest, spasms all over his body, and vomiting of yellow matter,” Mohammed Adnan said. 

On Monday, Adnan fainted, fell to the ground, and hit his head and lower shoulder. He remained lying on the ground for a long time without help from any guards, despite the presence of surveillance cameras in his cell, the lawyer told the family.

“That is why we demand that he be transferred to a civilian hospital. On top of that, the jailers deliberately disturb him and deprive him of sleep by storming his cell every half hour and keeping the light shining in it,” Mohammed Adnan said.

“Israel has so far refused to allow me, his wife, and his nine children to visit him, under the pretext of a security ban.” 

Adnan is considered a prominent Islamic Jihad leader in the occupied West Bank. He owns a bakery in his hometown and has nine children. He is active in his support of Palestinian prisoners and regularly participates in events held to support them.

His wife appealed to various human rights organisations, especially international ones, to help draw attention to his case and put pressure on Israel to release him “before it is too late”.

Qaddoura Fares, head of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, said that Israel was deliberately ignoring Adnan’s demands to be released in order to lengthen his hunger strike, in the hope that it would act as a deterrent to other Palestinian prisoners. 

Palestinian prisoners have collectively waged 25 strikes, as well as 410 individual strikes, the most recent of which is Adnan’s.  

According to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, the number of prisoners held in Israeli jails is currently 4,700, of whom 1,000 are in administrative detention, while Israeli forces have carried out at least 1,300 arrests since the beginning of this year.

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