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Palestinians still imprisoned without charge

Human Rights

On February 21, 2012, Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan ended his 66-day hunger strike. He will be released from the Israeli prison on April 17, 2012 – ironically, the International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian Prisoners.

Protesting against his administrative detention and the degrading treatment he received from the Israeli Prison Service (IPS), he began his hunger strike on December 18, 2011, the day following his arrest.

Khader Adnan, 33, is from the Palestinian village of Arraba, in northern Palestine. He is both a Masters student of Economics and a baker, and is married with two daughters.

A member of the Islamic Jihad, a group that Israel considers ‘terrorist’, Khader has spent six years in prison, most of it in administrative detention. This is his eighth detention.

According to the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association: ‘Administrative detention is a procedure that allows the Israeli military to hold prisoners indefinitely on secret evidence without charging them or allowing them to stand trial.’

Laws vary depending on if a prisoner is from the West Bank, Gaza or Israel. The law which applies to West Bank residents ‘empowers military commanders to detain an individual for up to six-month renewable periods’ if they have ‘reasonable grounds to presume that the security of the area or public security require the detention’. No definition of ‘security of the area’ or ‘public security’ is given.’ In other words, Palestinians can be detained for years without knowing the reason why.

International humanitarian law allows administrative detention to be used at times of emergency or if a nation’s security is threatened. However, the detainee has the right to challenge his or her detention.

Protesting his detention in a letter given to one of his lawyers, Khader 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.

‘Here I am in a hospital bed surrounded with prison wardens, handcuffed, and my foot tied to the bed…I hereby assert that I am confronting the occupiers not for my own sake as an individual, but for the sake of thousands of prisoners who are being deprived of their simplest human rights while the world and international community look on. It is time the international community and the UN support prisoners and force the State of Israel to respect international human rights and stop treating prisoners as if they were not humans. I starve myself for you to remain. I die for you to live. Stay with the revolution.’

Israeli Occupying Force (IOF) soldiers entered Khader’s home at 3:30 am and arrested him while his family looked on. Blindfolded and hands tied behind his back, they threw him into the military jeep where he endured kicks on his legs, and slaps on his head and face. Upon arrival at their destination, still blindfolded, they pushed him out of the jeep, causing him to crash into a wall.

For ten days, Khader was interrogated while he was sitting on a chair with a crooked back, his hands were tied behind him, causing back pain. He was subjected to insults, humiliation, and abusive language, and his beard was pulled so hard that some of the hair came out. The interrogator took dirt from his shoe and rubbed it on Khader’s mustache.

On the fourth day, he was put in isolation for seven days, and was banned from family visits for three months. His health deteriorating, he was transferred to a prison hospital, where he was again placed in isolation.

Khader remained shackled to his bed even though ‘the shackling of a patient to his hospital bed constitutes a violation of medical ethics,’ according to the Physicians for Human Rights (PHR).

On January 8, 2012, he was issued a four-month administrative detention order which would last until May 8, 2012. The reasons for detention, if they exist, are unknown to him and his lawyer.

Khader's appeal was rejected. The judge believed, according to the IPS’s doctor’s report, that Khader’s condition was ‘acceptable’. However, their assessment was somewhat questionable since they never examined Khader.

On February 15, 2012, after fasting for 60 days, a physician representing PHR examined Khader. A hunger strike which exceeds 70 days will likely result in death. The physician’s diagnosis confirmed this: Khader was close to dying.

Less than an hour before a hearing was to be held before the Supreme Court, an agreement was made with Israel’s state prosecutor. He was to be released upon the completion of four months imprisonment, starting from the day of his arrest.

The agreement stopped fear of widespread public outcry from Palestinians had he passed away. Khader’s hunger strike earned international attention, and brought the use of administrative detention to the forefront of Israeli debate.

Expressing his gratitude to his supporters, Khader reminded local and international communities of the importance of the Palestinian prisoners and those living under Occupation.

Since 2000, approximately 20,000 people have been held in administrative detention. As of February 1, 2012, there were 4,489 Palestinians in Israeli prisons. And 309 of them are administrative detainees – imprisoned without charges.

Top photo: On 17 February there were demonstrations in support of Khader Adnan across the West Bank.  Bottom photo: Khader Adnan stencil on a wall by Manara Square, Ramallah. Photos by Friends123 under a CC Licence.

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