GAZA: Several thousand Palestinians rallied in Gaza and the West Bank on Friday in support of jailed Islamic Jihad leader Khader Adnan, who is on the 62nd day of a hunger strike to protest against his detention by Israel.
“We are all Khader Adnan,” chanted crowds gathered in the Gaza Strip, with activists from the main political parties joining forces in a rare display of Palestinian unity.
Adnan, 33, has been refusing to eat since mid-December following his arrest in the occupied West Bank. He is being held under so-called “administrative detention”, which means Israel can detain him indefinitely without trial or charge.
The Islamic Jihad group has said it will escalate violence if Adnan dies, following reports that his health was deteriorating.
“We will pursue our Jihad and resistance. We will sail in the sea of blood and martyrdom until we land on the shore of pride and dignity,” top Islamic Jihad leader Nafez Azzam said during a Friday sermon at Gaza’s oldest al-Omari mosque.
The Physicians for Human Rights group in Israel (PHR), which has been monitoring Adnan’s condition in an Israeli hospital, said on Friday he was “in immediate danger of death,” adding that he had suffered “significant muscular atrophy.”
The Israeli army has said in a statement that Adnan was arrested “for activities that threaten regional security.” It has not given further details.
At least 5,000 people took to the streets of Gaza, waving a mix of black Jihad flags, the green flags of Hamas group and the yellow flags of the secular Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Witnesses said hundreds had also demonstrated in the northern West Bank city of Jenin.
Palestinian officials said many other prisoners in Israeli jails had started hunger strikes to support Adnan, including Hassan Salama, a senior armed commander of Hamas who is serving life terms for masterminding suicide bombings against Israelis.
The Islamic Jihad’s Azzam accused Arab states and Western powers of ignoring Adnan’s protest. “Shame on the nations of hundreds of millions (of Muslims) for the fact that Khader Adnan is still in prison,” he said in his Friday sermon.
Palestinians seek Adnan’s release