Monday, February 13, 2012

Palestinian prisoner on 57-day hunger strike over Israeli ‘abuses’

IN A show of defiance that could cost him his life, a Palestinian prisoner has waged a hunger strike for the last 57 days in protest over alleged Israeli interrogation abuses and the army’s practice of detention without due process for Palestinians.
Khader Adnan, a former spokesman for the militant Islamic Jihad group, has refused food since shortly after his arrest near the northern West Bank city of Jenin in mid-December, making his the longest hunger strike ever by a Palestinian prisoner. Last month, Mr Adnan was ordered by a military court to be held for four months in “administrative detention” an Israeli procedure that enables suspects to be held without trial and without evidence against them being presented to their lawyers for renewable periods of six months.
Mr Adnan’s lawyers, as well as doctors at the Israeli hospital where he is held shackled to his bed, believe he is now in danger of dying.
“He is really in a bad situation. His life is in danger. He is not willing to be treated. The doctors are begging to treat him and he refuses,” said Yael Shavit, spokeswoman for Ziv Hospital in the northern Israeli city of Safed. She added that Mr Adnan has refused repeated advice that he receive intravenous infusions and that he drinks only water from time to time.
According to relatives, Mr. Adnan has lost a third of his body weight. His skin is discoloured, his hair has fallen out and he cannot walk. Yet one of his lawyers, Tamar Peleg-Sryck, said he was “completely lucid and completely determined to continue” the strike when she met him last Thursday.
According to a 2006 British Medical Association study of the Northern Ireland hunger strike during 1980-81 death occurred from the 55th to the 75th day.
Mr Adnan “is being held in a small room with three jailers. His two legs and one of his hands are chained to the bed,” Ms Peleg-Sryck told The Scotsman.
The protest could not only cost Mr Adnan his life, it could set off wider bloodshed. On Saturday, 13 Palestinians were wounded by rubber coated metal bullets fired by Israeli forces during a solidarity protest near Ramallah.
Islamic Jihad, which calls for Israel’s destruction, has warned it will retaliate if Mr Adnan dies. And the Palestinian Authority minister for prisoner affairs, Issa Karakeh, predicted “there will be an explosion inside the prisons and in Palestinian areas”.
Hassan Khreishe, the deputy speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, said the previously unknown Mr Adnan “is now a symbol for the Palestinian people”.
He said people identified with him because there is widespread fear of the “administrative detention” practice, under which 319 Palestinians are currently being held without charge.
The Israeli army said in a statement only that Mr Adnan was arrested “for activities that threaten regional security”.
Mr Adnan’s wife, Randa, said: “His determination is strong, even though he resembles a man who has stepped away from life.”