Palestinian prisoner ends 66-day hunger strike

Khader Adnan agrees to end hunger strike in light of a deal struck between the state and his lawyers.

Protests demand Khader Adnan be released Flash 90 390 (photo credit: Flash 90)
Protests demand Khader Adnan be released Flash 90 390
(photo credit: Flash 90)
Khader Adnan, the Palestinian administrative detainee who has been on a hunger strike for 66 days, told the state through his lawyer Tuesday that he has agreed to end his hunger strike in light of a deal struck between the state and his lawyers. The announcement came less than an hour before a scheduled High Court of Justice hearing on his petition demanding that he be charged or released.
In its request, the state presented the court with a copy of an agreement signed by both Adnan's attorney, Jawad Boulos, and attorney Vered Halawa of the Judea and Samaria Military Advocate General. It says that after the matter was brought before the attorney-general, the state agreed to offset the days Adnan was detained for the purpose of a criminal investigation prior to his administrative detention, from the period of the current detention order.
The agreement further says that if no significant new material is added to the case, the military advocate general will not extend Adnan’s detention beyond April 17.
In the light of the state’s announcement, Adnan’s lawyers said he had ended his hunger strike, the agreement said.
Outside the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on Tuesday, a small group of Adnan’s supporters came to show solidarity. Perhaps owing to the news that a deal had been reached, there were barely more than a handful of protesters, and they were nearly outnumbered by the journalists on the scene, most of whom were from the foreign press.
Ran Cohen, director of Physicians for Human Rights Israel, which has supplied doctors to treat Adnan during his hunger strike, said Tuesday’s decision represented a success in the fight against administrative detention.
“This is a success not only in the case of Adnan himself, but more in that it brought the subject of administrative detentions to the forefront of the public debate.”
Cohen, whose organization played a central role in bringing media attention to Adnan’s case, said the deal was a result not only of the large media spotlight on the case, but also the fact that Adnan was able to persist in his hunger strike for such a long period of time.
He added that Adnan was able to “push Israel into a corner through a non-violent act of resistance.”
Ahead of the announcement of the deal, around 100 Palestinians staged a protest outside Ofer Prison in the West Bank, where they demanded Adnan’s immediate release. The IDF said protesters threw rocks at security forces stationed at the prison, and protesters said that 11 people were injured by rubber bullets fired at them by security forces.
Following the agreement between Adnan’s lawyers and the state, there appeared to be some confusion in the Palestinian Authority over what had happened, with multiple Arabic news sources citing PA prisoners affairs minister Issa Qaraqe as saying that “Israel's Supreme Court had ruled to release Adnan.”
In response to those reports, Ofir Gendelman, the prime minister's spokesman to the Arab media, said via Twitter that the court had not decided to release Adnan, and also noted that Adnan had not been exonerated.
Gendelman also tweeted that there is “concrete evidence which came from intelligence information that [Adnan] is an Islamic Jihad terrorist.”
“If he returns to violence & terror, he will be arrested again,” he added.
Also following the announcement of the deal that ended Adnan’s hunger strike, Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad issued a statement via its Arabic-language Facebook page, saying that Adnan had “won the praise of Allah over his captors.”
Islamic Jihad, which has killed scores of Israelis in suicide bombings, had previously threatened “painful revenge” on Israel should Adnan die from his hunger strike.
The 33-year-old Islamic Jihad member from the West Bank village of Arrabe began the hunger strike on December 18, the day after he was arrested in his home by IDF troops. Adnan called the strike over what he said was abusive treatment by the arresting soldiers and to protest administrative detentions, in which suspects arrested by the IDF in the West Bank are held without being charged.
The hunger strike is Adnan’s second: In 2010, he initiated a hunger strike following his arrest by the Palestinian security services for allegedly joining illegal militias.
In southern Beirut on Tuesday, Palestinian Islamic Jihad organized a protest in the Palestinian refugee camp Burj el-Barajneh.
A senior Islamic Jihad official said Adnan was a “symbol” and added that “armed resistance alone would free prisoners and the al-Aksa Mosque,” while Palestinian factions in Gaza also organized a sit-in rally on Tuesday in solidarity with Adnan, Dubai-based Arabic web portal Al Moheet reported.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) said in response to the agreement that it was “unclear” why Adnan had not been released from administrative detention on Tuesday, if the state did not intend to indict him.
“It is unfortunate that only after a person went on hunger strike and was on the verge of death that the state announced it did not intend to extend his administrative detention,” said attorney Lila Margalit. ACRI added that hundreds of other Palestinians remain in detention, and called on the state to charge or release them.
Administrative detentions are arrests carried out by the IDF on behalf of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), in which the detainee is not told what charges he is facing and is not brought before a judge. The detentions are usually for a set period of up to six months, but can be extended indefinitely.
According to Israel Prisons Service figures, at the end of December 2011 there were 307 Palestinians on administrative detention in Israeli jails, an increase from 219 in January 2011. Adnan himself was given a four-month administrative detention order on January 8, 2012.
Likud MK Danny Danon took a more negative approach to news of the deal, saying Israel had “capitulated to terrorism. This deal renders the Israeli values system meaningless.”
Also Wednesday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman slammed the Israeli Arab MKs who have visited Adnan during his hospitalization, saying that they were “representing terrorists” in the Knesset.
He also called them hypocrites for protesting Adnan’s detention while at the same time ignoring Syrian President Basher Assad’s brutal crackdown on members of the Syrian uprising.