As Palestinian hunger striker Khader Adnan verged dangerously on the border between life and death, much of the world turned its collective gaze toward Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Adnan, who was arrested at his home in the occupied West Bank in the middle of the night, had been sustaining a 66 day hunger strike in protest of his treatment by the Israel Security Agency (ISA) and his detention without charge or trial.
Onlookers breathed a collective sigh of relief when Adnan’s lawyer reached an agreement with Israeli authorities on February 21st, prompting the dying man to halt his strike. The state has reportedly agreed not to extend Khader Adnan’s four-month “administrative detention” unless “significant” new evidence emerges, and has said that it will count the days he served in detention before the order was issued on January 10.
For many, Khader Adnan’s case is emblematic of the systemic violation of Palestinian prisoners’ right to a fair trial, and the Israeli authorities’ compromise has been hailed as testament to the power of peaceful protest. However, the end of Adnan’s suffering is not yet within reach: he remains under constant armed guard and he is still shackled to his hospital bed, despite commitments by the Israeli Prison Service to remove the shackles. He has embarked on a complex recovery process and, as noted by doctors from Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, his life remains in danger.
The hospital staff, who mocked Adnan only days ago, is now expected to care for him during his recovery process. Khader Adnan’s wife Randa was allowed to visit her husband in the hospital during his hunger strike. She said, “While I was there, he had chest pains and asked a nurse to call Physicians for Human Rights. The nurse yelled at Khader saying that she does not have time for him and that if he needs medical attention he should break his hunger strike. Another doctor mocked him when he asked for water and said that he should also stop drinking water.”
The Israeli authorities allege that Khader Adnan is associated with Islamic Jihad, and cite concerns of his involvement with the military wing known to carry out attacks against civilians. To Amnesty International’s knowledge, however, Adnan has never been convicted of a violent crime.
Adnan’s detention order was originally slated to expire on May 8th, yet there was little guarantee that he actually would have been released. Administrative detention orders can be (and often are) renewed indefinitely. In fact, among the 300 plus Palestinians who are currently being held under administrative detention, one man has been detained without charge or trial for more than five years. The Israeli authorities use administrative detention to hold prisoners based on “secret evidence,” which they say cannot be revealed for security reasons. As such, detainees and their lawyers are powerless to contest the unarticulated charges or unseen evidence.