Palestinian on 48th day of hunger strike chained to hospital bed

Khader Adnan is on the 48th day of his hunger strike, protesting his administrative detention. He is chained to a bed in a Bnei Brak hospital, and it’s unknown whether his family will be permitted to visit him

Khader Adnan, aged 34 of ‘Araba near Jenin, is on the 48th day of his hunger strike, and is held chained to a bed in the Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center in Bnei Brak. So reports Israeli NGO Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I). Adnan is protesting his administrative detention.

Adnan was detained on December 17, 2011, and went on a hunger strike the following day. He refuses to consume anything but water. Despite his deteriorating situation – PHR-I says a person is in severe danger after the 45th day of a hunger strike – a military judge declined yesterday to review Adnan’s detention order and postponed the hearing for the second time. Adnan arrived at the hearing in a wheelchair.

PHR-I denounced the fact that Mayanei Hayeshua allows Adnan to be hospitalized in chains, noting that in doing so the hospital is in violation of medical ethics, as well as the instructions of the Israeli Health Ministry and Israeli physicians organizations. PHR-I asked that Adnan’s chains be removed, and its president, Dr. Ruhama Marton, said that “the chaining of a prisoner to bed is intended solely for the purpose of humiliating him and causing him physical and mental hardship. The security argument is invalid in this case… The chaining of a patient to a bed is contrary to international law. Administrative detainee Khader Adnan is trying to defend his rights and his human dignity in the only way left to him, which is a hunger strike.”

In a conversation with Anat Litwin, the PHR-I official dealing with detainees and prisoners, she noted that the organization has also asked for permission for Adnan’s family to visit him. Such permission is required, as the family lives in the West Bank and Adnan is held  As the IDF did not respond to the request, the NGO made an urgent appeal to the Petah Tikva District Court. No decision has been made yet. Litwin said that “we’re not sure there will be anyone to receive them tomorrow”, and stated that Adnan is in the last stages of a hunger strike. After the 45th day, the ability of a person on a hunger striketo make decisions is hindered. Dying begins, as a rule, on the 55th day. PHR-I did receive permission to have two of its physicians meet Adnan on January 29th. The doctors spoke to Adnan and informed him of his condition; he decided to continue the strike nevertheless.

Administrative detention in Israel is based on the British emergency laws, which were never repealed, even though Menachem Begin, when he served as opposition leader before becoming prime minister, denounced them as “worse than the Nazi laws.” A person may be detained for up to six months without the government needing to show any evidence against him. Perhaps the most cruel element of administrative detention, which PHR-I considers to be a form of psychological torture, is the fact that it may be extended time and time again. A murderer sentenced to 25 years at least knows when he will be released; an administrative detainee never does. Often, they are re-arrested on the day the six months expire.

B’Tselem spokesperson Sarit Michaeli noted that the organization has reported that the number of administrative detainees is on the rise. In January 2011, Israel held 219 Palestinians in administrative arrest; the number rose to 307 over the course of December 2011. Michaeli said that while administrative detention is not illegal per se according to international law, its use is supposed to be extremely rare, as such an administrative detainee cannot – for all practical reasons – defend himself, and often is not informed of the suspicions against him.

Personally, I always considered the practice of administrative detention to be the worst of the occupation’s crimes. A person is imprisoned without the chance of clearing himself and without any way of knowing when he will be discharged. The system is so grotesque; even the Inquisition’s was better: a detainee of the Holy Office had the right to name his enemies, and if the complaint against him had come from them, the detainee would be discharged and the false accuser would face the inquisition instead. According to Israel’s system of administrative detention, the detainee is not even given the chance to clear his name.

The ISA (Shin Bet) often claims that the people it holds under this system are horrible, dangerous people. Maybe so. If that is the case, then it should take them to court and show them its evidence. The conviction rate of the military court system is 99.76 percent, and the judges often allow secret information against the defendant – i.e., information which is presented only to the judge, based on what is claimed to be intelligence. If the level of evidence the ISA holds against Adnan won’t stand even in this crooked system, one can safely assume it has nothing it can show a court.