Palestinian Prisoner Ends 66-Day Hunger Strike as Israel Agrees to Set Him Free
Israel agreed to release alleged Islamic Jihad operative Khader Adnan who, at the onset of his detention, began a hunger strike that he continued for 66 days–the longest hunger strike in Palestinian prisoner history. Adnan’s legal representation reported that he had agreed to end the hunger strike after reaching an agreement with Israeli authorities guaranteeing his release in April, should “no new additional substantial evidence” emerge against him.
Adnan, a baker by profession, is alleged to be a leader of the Iranian-sponsored Islamic Jihad group, and was arrested under the policy of “administrative detention.” Under this policy, alleged Palestinian militants are arrested and detained for months, even years, without charge. The language of the law allows for renewable six-month detentions, opening the door for indefinite imprisonment without a trial or charge. Israel defends this policy as “a necessary tool to stop militant activity.” The defendant and his representation have not been made aware of any evidence against him nor has he been charged with a crime. Israel maintains that releasing said evidence would compromise important intelligence networks in the West Bank.
On Friday, the Israeli group Physicians for Human Rights warned that Adnan “was in immediate danger of death,” and stated that he had suffered “sever muscular atrophy” after reportedly losing 1/3 of his body weight. Adnan’s imprisonment sparked demonstrations across the Palestinian territories with shops closing in the West Bank and other Prisoners beginning hunger strikes. Urging world leader to release Adnan, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, said, “I sent messages to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, and spoke with the EU and Chinese envoys … I asked them all to intervene in Adnan’s case.” Ashton was following the case “with great concern” believing that “detainees have the right to be informed about the charges underlying any detention and be subject to a fair trial.” Human rights groups criticized Adnan’s hospital stay as he was “shackled by chains on both legs and one arm.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended Israel’s position, describing Adnan as “a dangerous terrorist.” Israeli spokesman Ofir Gendelman stated that a military judge and court of appeals had “found him a dangerous Islamic Jihad terrorist,” while Israeli Prison Service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman added, “We are well aware of the implications of this case.” Should no “substantial evidence” emerge against Adnan, he will be released in April after four months of incarceration.