Protesting arrest without charges, Khader Adnan is dying

Adnan is held for at least the 7th time in administrative arrest, a practice used at any given moment to detain hundreds of Palestinians. 

Protesting arrest without charges, Khader Adnan is dying
Adnan's wife, daughters and father leave the Safed hospital after visiting him, February 15, 2012 (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills)

This is a translation (with slight changes) of an article published in Hebrew in my weekly column at TimeOut Tel Aviv

The IDF’s court of appeals rejected this week the motion of Khader Adnan, 33, a resident of the village Araba, against the four months of administrative arrest to which he was sentenced. It was the 59th day of Adnan’s hunger strike. In an unusual manner, the court’s hearing was held in Ziv Medical Center in Safed, where Adnan is held. During most of the hunger strike, Adnan was chained to his bed; according to reports, the chains were recently removed.

This is the longest a Palestinian prisoner has sustained a hunger strike. At this stage, irreparable damage has already been done to the body, and the patient’s life is under immediate threat. This text was written in Hebrew on Monday, and published on Wednesday, the 61st day of the hunger strike. As I translate this post, Adnan ends his 63rd day without food. IRA hero Bobby Sands died after 66 days of hunger strike. The IRA’s hunger strike was a turning point in the struggle over Northern Ireland. In Belfast, I saw Sands’ portrait on the outside wall of the Sinn Fein headquarters. Khader Adnan is still alive.

Administrative arrest, the legal process to which Adnan is subject, is an extreme and very rare measure in most democracies, and very common in Israel. It allows a person to be held without trial, without charges and without evidence for up to six months, which can be extended again and again. At any given moment, there are hundreds of Palestinians in administrative detention. Even now.

Israel’s military courts are very hard on Palestinians to begin with. The burden on the prosecution is extremely low in comparison to a civilian criminal court, and much of the evidence can be classified, not even shared with the defendant. The military courts have an astonishing conviction rate of 99.7 percent, a figure that hasn’t changed in years. But administrative arrests are even worse than normal military proceedings, as they are used against defendants in cases of complete lack of evidence, or when the military authorities suspect, fear or just estimate that a person might do something at some point. This was at least the seventh time Adnan was put under administrative arrest.

Khader Adnan is identified, politically, with the Islamic Jihad. An unpleasant organization, to say the least. If the state of Israel believes him to be a terrorist, Adnan should be put on trial. Instead, Adnan and hundreds others are thrown into prison, without even being read the charges against them and without a way to defend themselves.

All this should have been enough to demand the release of Khader Adnan (or alternatively, for him to be put on proper trial). But administrative arrests are in sync with the Zeitgeist in Israel, in which every Palestinian is a terrorist until proven otherwise, and therefore not worthy of the rights given to other human beings. The military judge that rejected Adnan’s appeal didn’t even bother rationalizing the extreme measure against the Palestinian prisoner, and simply stated that he “didn’t find anything of substance in the defendant’s claims.”

Regarding the hunger strike, the judge noted that Adnan could end it anytime he pleases. He concluded with this famous quote by Rabbi Akiva, now sounding so morbid and cruel: “Everything is foreseen and permission is granted.”

UPDATE: On Saturday, the EU expressed ‘concern’ over the health of Adnan, and over the use of administrative arrests by Israel

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