Why is Israel arbitrarily detaining a US senior citizen ?

Tamara Nassar

The Electronic Intifada  /  April 19, 2023

On Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, marked annually on 17 April, veteran hunger striker Khader Adnan surpassed more than 70 days without food or water to protest his detention by Israel without charge or trial.

Israeli occupation authorities arrested Adnan on 5 February and issued an administrative detention order against him, prompting him to begin his hunger strike.

Administrative detention orders are typically issued for six-month periods, but can be renewed indefinitely. Detainees are held without charge or trial and they and their attorneys are unable to see evidence against them.

The father of nine is experiencing severe health deterioration and has prepared his will earlier this month in the event of his death.

Randa Musa, Adnan’s wife, told reporters last week that a lawyer affiliated with Physicians for Human Rights-Israel visited Adnan and reported that his health is deteriorating rapidly.

“He described quite literally that the sheikh [Adnan] is dying,” she said.

Musa added that her husband would not receive treatment without the presence of a family member or a neutral party, which Israeli prison authorities have refused to do.

“His eyesight is weak, his body is lean, and he is experiencing convulsions, and even fainted when the lawyer was present to see him,” his wife said.

Adnan has taken part in several long-term hunger strikes in protest of similar orders over the years.

Those include 66 days in 201255 days in 2015 and 58 days in 2018.

Hailing from the occupied West Bank village of Arraba near Jenin, Adnan spent some eight years in Israeli detention, the majority of which he was held without charge or trial.

Elderly citizen

Meanwhile, a Palestinian American has been held in administrative detention by Israel for the past seven months.

Democracy for the Arab World Now, a US-based organization founded by the murdered writer Jamal Khashoggi, is calling for 76-year-old Jamal Niser’s immediate release.

Niser was first detained in 2021 for four months without charge or trial because of his alleged involvement in Palestinian legislative elections, which were scheduled that year but never took place.

After his release in October 2021, Niser’s congressional representative in the United States, Tim Ryan, even tried to intervene on his behalf and – through the State Department – got “assurances” from the Israeli government that he would be able to return to the United States.

But nothing came of that.

Israeli forces raided Niser’s home in Ramallah in the middle of the night last August and detained him again, without charging him with a crime. His administrative detention order is set to expire on 22 April.

“At least 10 Israeli military legal officers have played direct roles in the arbitrary detention of Jamal Niser,” DAWN said.

“The US and other responsible governments should impose sanctions on these individuals for their role in human rights abuses.”

Following his migration to the United States in 1967, Niser established himself, built a family and became the owner of a number of grocery stores and gas stations, and got into real estate development.

Niser moved back to the occupied West Bank after the signing of the Oslo Accords in the 1990s, where Israel enforced restrictions on him leaving the West Bank since 2011, with the exception of one trip to the United States in 2017.

“At the very least, the Biden Administration should work to free Jamal Niser with the same diplomatic might and influence as it wields on behalf of high-profile Americans, like Brittney Griner and Evan Gershkovich,” Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man, Director of Research for Israel-Palestine at DAWN, said.

Griner is an American professional basketball player who was arrested on drug smuggling charges in Russia last year. Gershkovich is an American journalist detained by Russian authorities on espionage charges.

Israel is currently holding around 4,900 Palestinians, more than 20 percent of them under administrative detention orders. The last time Israel was holding that many Palestinians without charge or trial was during the second intifada in 2003.

Around 150 Palestinian children are being detained by Israel, 11 of them without charge or trial.

Medical neglect

Palestinian human rights groups are meanwhile calling for the immediate release of Walid Daqqa – a writer and activist who has been imprisoned for 37 years and was recently diagnosed with bone marrow cancer.

He is among the 23 Palestinians who have been held by Israel since before the Oslo accords were signed in the 1990s.

The Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC), which includes a number of groups, sent an urgent appeal to the UN Special Procedures – a body that handles such cases – calling for Daqqa’s release.

The council said Daqqa was “facing imminent deteriorating health conditions due to Israeli Prison Services policy of deliberate medical neglect.”

Israeli prison authorities “deliberately denied” the 61-year-old access to periodic blood tests “as a form of punishment for a minor violation of proscribed prison conduct – smuggling cell phones into his cell.”

Israeli authorities extended his sentence by two years, preventing him from getting released this year. “It is undeniable that the IPS played a direct role, if not an exclusive role, in the life-threatening condition of Walid,” the council said.

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada