Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, on Saturday called on Israel to
“preserve” the health of Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan, 33, who has been on
a hunger strike for 63 days.
Physicians for Human Rights - Israel has
warned that it is not possible for Adnan to survive a hunger strike of more than
The High Court of Justice has agreed to hear a petition on his
behalf, but as of press time, it was not known when that hearing would take
Ashton’s office said she was “following with great concern reports
about the deteriorating health condition of Khader Adnan.” Her office added that
the policy chief and the EU had long been concerned about Israel’s policy of
administrative detention, in which Palestinians were held without formal charges
being brought against them.
“Detainees have the right to be informed about the charges underlying any detention and be subject to a fair
trial,” her office said.
Adnan, a father of two from Arrabe, near Jenin,
was arrested in his home on December 17, but has yet to be charged.
was in Ofer Prison near Ramallah until he was transferred to the Galilee Medical
Faculty in Safed.
There have been media reports that Adnan belonged to
Islamic Jihad, but the Shin Bet (Israel Security Service) and the IDF have not
The IDF said in a statement that Adnan was arrested “for
activities that threaten regional security.” It has not given further
On Thursday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
instructed Palestinian envoys to urge the international community, including the
United Nations, to pressure Israel to release Adnan.
negotiator Saeb Erekat filed a request last week for Adnan’s release with Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s envoy Yitzhak Molcho.
Already on Wednesday,
Richard Falk, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian
territories, urged the international community to pressure Israel on Adnan’s
“In view of the emergency of his situation, the government of
Israel must take immediate and effective action to safeguard Mr. Adnan’s life,
while upholding his rights,” said Falk, who is on a fact-finding mission in the
“The improper treatment of thousands of
Palestinian prisoners by the government of Israel should be of great concern to
the international community, and it is a problem that I am paying close
attention to in the context of my ongoing visit to the region,” he
In an interview with the Egyptian news organization aharamonline
published Friday, Falk warned, “If Adnan is to die, a third intifada is to
rise... He will be considered a martyr.”
The Carter Center in Atlanta,
Georgia, has also called for Adnan to be set free.
On Friday, 500 people
rallied in Bil’in, in the West Bank, on his behalf. Some dressed in prison garb.
They spray-painted his face onto a concrete section of the security barrier that
separates Bil’in from the Modi’in Illit settlement.
On Friday, at least
5,000 people took to the streets of Gaza, waving a mix of black Islamic Jihad
flags, the green flags of Hamas and the yellow flags of Fatah.
said hundreds had also demonstrated in Jenin.
Palestinian officials said
many other prisoners in Israeli jails had started hunger strikes to support
Adnan, including Hassan Salama, a senior commander of Hamas’s Izzadin Kassam
armed wing who is serving life terms for masterminding suicide bombings against
Palestinian prisoners have often staged hunger strikes to try
to gain better conditions or to denounce the Israeli
However, such protests usually end quickly and officials
said no one had persisted for as long as Adnan, who is married with two children
and whose wife is expecting a third child.
The Islamic Jihad’s Nafez
Azzam accused Arab states and Western powers of ignoring Adnan’s
“Shame on the nations of hundreds of millions [of Muslims] for
the fact that Khader Adnan is still in prison,” he said in his Friday sermon in
Hamas said it was pushing the Arab League and Egypt to press for
the release of Adnan.
“The Palestinian people, with all its components
and its factions, will never abandon the hero prisoners, especially those who
lead this hunger strike battle,” said Hamas’s top leader in the Strip, Ismail
Haniyeh.Khaled Abu Toameh and Reuters contributed to this report.