“I am defending my dignity and my people’s dignity and not doing this in vain.” The words of 34-year-old Palestinian detainee Khader Adnan, who is close to death, tied to his bed in an Israeli hospital after more than 60 days on hunger strike.
Despite his physical weakness, Adnan is surrounded by prison warders, handcuffed and with a foot strapped to the bed. This brutal, inhuman treatment is meted out to Adnan by the Israeli state because he dares to challenge the arbitrary policy of administrative detention.
Over the years, thousands of Palestinians have been seized from their homes in the occupied territories and held without charge on the grounds that they could commit an offence in the future! Some of the regulations are inherited from the period of British mandate rule of Palestine.
In his letter, delivered by Jalal Abu Wasil, a lawyer from the Palestinian ministry of prisoners affairs who visited him in hospital, Adnan said: “The Israeli occupation has gone to extremes against our people, especially prisoners. I have been humiliated, beaten, and harassed by interrogators for no reason, and thus I swore to God I would fight the policy of administrative detention to which I and hundreds of my fellow prisoners fell prey,”
He called on the major powers and the United Nations to compel Israel to respect the human rights of prisoners. The predictable response to Adnan’s appeal has been silence. Silence from the White House. Silence from the Foreign Office in London. A few weasel words from the European Union.
Adnan, a mathematics graduate who runs a small bakery, was seized from his family home in a village outside the West Bank of Jenin in a 3a.m raid last December. It was not the first time the Israelis had detained him. Never charged with any offence, Adnan decided enough was enough and began his hunger strike soon after.
Inside Israel itself, the information centre B'Tselem, which campaigns against administrative detention, called on the government to either charge Adnan or release him. There was a sharp rise in administrative detention last year, from 219 in January to 307 in December. Seventeen Palestinians have been held continuously for two to four and a half years, and one man for over five years. B'Tselem says:
“The manner in which Israel uses administrative detention is patently illegal. Administrative detainees are not told the reason for their detention or the specific allegations against them. Although detainees are brought before a judge to approve the detention order, most of the material submitted by the prosecution is classified and not shown to the detainee or his attorney. Since the detainees do not know the evidence against them, they are unable to refute it. The detainees also do not know when they will be released: although the maximum period of administrative detention is six months, it can be renewed indefinitely.”
Such is the Kafka-style fate that awaits militant Palestinians who want nothing more than self-determination for their people. But that is denied them by a state suffused with Zionist, nationalist ideology that promotes ethnic exclusiveness to the detriment of “outsiders”. Such a state has no long-term viable, sustainable future because it is an historical anachronism.
Physicians for Human Rights in Israel issued a medical report supporting a petition to the Supreme Court for his release. A doctor said that even though Adnan had agreed to be treated with an infusion of liquids and salts, augmented by glucose and vitamins, he had refused to end his hunger strike and was in "immediate danger of death". Meanwhile, Randa Jihad Adnan, the pregnant mother of two young daughters aged four and one and half, says: "I know my husband. He will not change his mind. I expect him to die."
If that happens, the Israeli state will have yet more blood on its hands.