Khader Adnan to be released.
BETHLEHEM march for Khader Adnan
PALESTINIAN detainee Khader Adnan has ended a record 66-day hunger strike after hearing that the Israeli authorities have set a date for his release. The Israeli justice ministry announced that Khader Adnan would remain in custody until 17 April, when his "administrative detention" would end.
Khader Adnan, a 33-year old baker, had not eaten since December, when he was arrested in the West Bank. The Israeli military has said he was arrested "for activities that threaten regional security". No details were given, although it was reported that he was a leading member of Islamic Jihad, which the Israelis class as a "terrorist" organisation.
The Palestinian was never charged or brought to trial. Earlier this month, a military court ordered that he be placed for four months in administrative detention. Under Israeli law, which derives from the British mandate's 1945 Emergency Regulations such prisoners can be held indefinitely without trial or charge.Adnan began refusing food on December 18- the day after he was detained at his home in the village of Arabah - in protest at what he says was a violent arrest as well as humiliating interrogation sessions.
The hunger strike and fears for Adnan's life, as well as reports of his ill-treatment, roused protests and solidarity action both sides of the "green line" border, as well as internationally. Token hunger strikes took place in the prisons, including by Palestinian women prisoners, who were punished by the prison authorities siezing prisoners' packets from home.
Amnesty International raised a petition, and in the United States two Jewish organisations called a fast on Friday in solidarity with Khader Adnan.
Israeli Physicians for Human Rights expressed concern for Adnan's life, and today a doctor from PHR was able to visit him. Mr Adnan's lawyers had been due to petition the Israeli Supreme Court for his release when the Israeli justice ministry announced that it had reached a deal that would see him freed.
"The state... agrees to offset the days in which the appellant was detained for the purpose of a criminal investigation prior to his administrative detention from the period of the current administrative detention order, and also announces that as long as no new significant and substantive material is added regarding the appellant, there is no intention to extend the administrative detention," a statement said.
"In light of state's foregoing announcement, the appellant states - via his attorney - that he is halting his hunger strike effective immediately."
Adnan will need medical treatment to recover from his ordeal. On Friday, warning that he was "in immediate danger of death", PHR added that he had suffered "significant muscular atrophy". Human rights groups also criticised the conditions in which he was being held at Ziv hospital in the northern Israeli town of Safed, where he was shackled to his bed by chains on both legs and one arm.
The European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, said it was following Mr Adnan's case with "great concern." "Detainees have the right to be informed about the charges underlying any detention and be subject to a fair trial," she added.
...but what about the others?
Khader Adnan is one of over 300 Palestinians known to be currently held in administrative detention. A report in the Israeli online 972 mag says:
At any given moment, hundreds of Palestinians are held by Israel without charges or trial. Of the Palestinians currently under administrative arrest, 88 have been held for more than a year. One has been held for more than five years.
Some advocacy groups and Israeli officials have recently claimed that Khader Adnan, the 33-year-old Palestinian on a hunger strike for more than two months now, “is no saint,” and that real security concerns led to his arrest. But we can never know for sure, since Adnan is held under administrative arrest, a measure that contradicts the logic at the heart of the rule of law: it aims to put people in prisons not for what they did or conspired to do, but for what they might do. In other words, he is guilty until proven innocent. And there is no way to try and prove he is innocent, since Adnan won’t face trial.
This is the heart of the matter: at any given moment, hundreds of Palestinians are held by Israel without trial, with no charges filed against them, and without the ability to defend themselves against non-existent charges. In short, they are simply thrown into prison for a period of up to six months, which can be renewed indefinitely. Each of Khader Adnan’s many previous arrests lasted months – a fact that goes a long way to explain why he is willing to take such an extreme measure as a life-threatening hunger strike. What other hope does he have?
Israel claims that Adnan is a member of Islamic Jihad? It should take him to court and charge him with membership in a terrorist organization, with planning or taking part in illegal activities, or another item on the very long list that is often used against Palestinians. But why bother, when you can simply pick him up at his home, place him in prison and forget about the whole thing? If it wasn’t for his hunger strike, would any news organization bother to deal with those “arrests”?
Administrative detention exist in other countries, but is considered a unique and exceptional measure, and its implementation usually leads to a vigorous public debate. In the West Bank, it’s routine. Over the years, Israel has held thousands of Palestinians in administrative detention for periods ranging from a few months to several years. Eighty of the Palestinians held under administrative arrest – some 26 percent of the detainees – have been held for six months to one year; another 88 people (about 28.5 percent) from one to two years. Sixteen Palestinians have been in administrative detention continuously for two to four and a half years, and one man has been held for over five years. It should be noted that a few settlers have also been held in the past under administrative arrest, an act which was reported and rightly criticized in the Israeli media.
In London the Palestine Solidarity Campaign which has organised a protest vigil for Khader Adnan tomorrow evening says it will continue in order to draw attention to the continued detention of other prisoners: