Palestinian’s hunger strike puts spotlight on Israeli detentions

Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan's daughter Maali takes part in a protest in support of her father, who is on hunger strike.
Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan’s daughter Maali takes part in a protest in support of her father, who is on hunger strike.

Jerusalem (CNN) — A 33-year-old West Bank baker who has become a symbol of Palestinian resistance to Israeli detention policies entered the 63rd day of a hunger strike Saturday despite a doctor’s warning that he could die any time.

“Mr. Khader Adnan is in immediate danger of death,” according to a report issued this week by the Israeli branch of the nonprofit Physicians for Human Rights, which sent a doctor to examine him.

Adnan’s two-month protest is the longest hunger strike in Palestinian history and is a high-stakes gamble that increased scrutiny on Israel’s arrest and detention policies of Palestinians.

Adnan is accused of being the spokesman of the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad, an Iranian-backed organization responsible for killings scores of people in Israel in suicide bombings and rocket attacks.

Adnan was arrested by Israeli security forces December 17, 2011, at his home near the West Bank city of Jenin. He began a hunger strike after accusing interrogators of subjecting him to humiliation and verbal abuse, said Adnan’s wife, Randa.

The rights group has petitioned the Israeli court to release Adnan, saying that after 50 days of undergoing a hunger strike, the body’s major muscles and vital organs suffer decomposition. More than 70 days “does not permit survival,” the group said.

The Israeli military will not say what evidence it has against Adnan and has refused to release details about his arrest, saying only he is being held on an “administrative warrant for activities that threaten regional security.”

To date, no charges have been filed, Adnan’s attorney said.

Adnan is being held in administrative detention, a controversial Israeli practice that allows authorities to detain people indefinitely. There is no requirement to charge detainees held under this practice.

At the end of 2011, Israel had 307 Palestinians under administrative detention, according to B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group. That was a 40% increase in the number of detentions from a year earlier, the group said.

Israeli prison authorities said in a statement that Adnan is being treated in compliance with the policies of administrative detentions, “with special attention given to his humanitarian situation.”

Physicians for Human Rights said Adnan was receiving an intravenous feed of liquids, salt and glucose.

Adnan’s wife denied her husband was involved in any violent activities. She said despite previous arrests, Israel has never produced evidence he was a senior figure within the Islamic Jihad.

Islamic Jihad has warned Israeli authorities not to harm Adnan, and photos and tributes fill a website maintained by the group.

The group has a history of taking up anti-Israeli causes.

Adnan’s hunger strike has become a rallying cry for Palestinians, who have staged multiple protests in the West Bank and Gaza demanding his release. Protesters have also launched a social media campaign to shed light on Israel’s administrative detentions.

“This is a violation of every aspect of human rights,” Palestinian legislator and human rights activist Mustafa Barghouti said during a recent West Bank rally.

“What Khader Adnan is doing today is to show the will of freedom even it means the loss of life.”

The high-profile hunger strike has sparked criticism from rights groups, which have called on Israeli authorities to either charge or release him.

Israel’s Supreme Court has agreed to hear Adnan’s petition that he be released, though a hearing date has not been set, his attorney said.

( /18.02.2012)

Open letter to EU’s Ashton after statement on Khader Adnan


Dear Ms. Ashton,

Forty-eight hours after my colleague David Cronin first requested it, your spokespersons found the time to issue a statement on the plight of Khader Adnan, who could die at any moment, shackled to his bed, now in his 62nd day of hunger strike against his arbitrary detention by Israel.

Amnesty InternationalHuman Rights Watch, the Carter Center, and numerous civil society groups all over the world have called for Israel to immediately release or charge Mr. Adnan, as well as the more than 300 other “administrative detainees” including 21 elected members of the Palestinian legislative council currently being held by Israel.

But you didn’t do that. Instead, you washed your hands of Khader Adnan, and to the extent that Khader Adnan has become a symbol of Palestinians’ desperate determination to stand up for their rights against overwhelming Israeli oppression, you washed your hands of all Palestinians too.

As Adnan wrote weeks ago:

“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.”

Addressing you and other members of the “international community” he wrote: “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.”

But you decided to look away. Your weasel-worded statement merely “requests the government of Israel to do all it can to preserve the health of Mr. Adnan and handle this case while abiding by all legal obligations under international law.” You even affirmed Israel’s right to use administrative detention.

What is this “case”? Let us remind ourselves that Mr. Adnan was abducted from his home at 3.30AM on 17 December. He was taken from his pregnant wife Randa and his two young daughters. He has not been charged with a crime, despite lengthy harsh interrogation, humiliation and abuse. This is what led him to go on hunger strike. He has not eaten since one week before Christmas.

Randa described what might be her last time seeing her husband on Wednesday:

“My father-in-law said to him: ‘We want you to stay alive. You cannot defeat this state on your own.’ He told him he wanted him to end the strike. I told him I wished he would drink a cup of milk. But he said: ‘I did not expect this from you. I know you are with me all the time. Please stop it…. I know my husband. He will not change his mind. I expect him to die.”

He is still alive and he wants to live. Randa Adnan recalled that her husband told one of his lawyers: “I do not want to go to oblivion or death. But I am a man who defends his freedom. If I die it will be my fate.”

You have frequently asserted that “human rights” are at the center of your policy. But we know that any such statements come with an asterisk. Palestinians are exempt from such rights, and Israel is exempt from any accountability. You proved that again today.

What makes this all the more revolting is that you spared no opportunity to call for the release of an Israeli occupation soldier who was held in Gaza, a soldier taken prisoner while bearing arms to enforce the deadly siege and occupation of Gaza.

Perhaps if Khader Adnan had been an armed Israeli occupation soldier, instead of a father who was at home with his family, you would have had more sympathy.

I have not lost hope that Mr. Khader can be saved. I dream of a day when people like you will lead instead of follow. But perhaps that isn’t your function.

What gives me hope still is that people all over Europe, all over the world, are joining the demands that Israel release Adnan, so he can return home.

Read some of their messages to him and his family. Perhaps you will rediscover some of the humanity that your shameful statement so painfully lacks, end your complicity and call on Israel to free this man and all other prisoners of its brutal, merciless, inhumane and EU-subsidized occupation.

Ali Abunimah

The author is the Executive Director of The Electronic Intifada.

( / 18.02.2012)

News from Gaza 18.02.2012

At least 1 reported injured in IAF strike on Gaza – Jerusalem Post

Two Injured After Army Bombarded Gaza

IDF uncovers Iranian-made explosive device in Gaza – Ynetnews

More of #Israel‘bombs are falling along with rain on #Gaza. It’s sadly funny that Be4 I couldn’t tell if it was thunder or bombs. :S

#BREAKING : 4th explosion north of #Gaza , Israeli Apaches heard

The next hours are the most decisive for #Gaza patients, said health ministry spokesman on outages of electricity in Gaza hospitals

Breaking: 3 injuries are reported now in #Gaza, taken to the hospital

2night it rained rain & rockets in #Gaza its cold and dark!#GazaBlackout its been a long day & 2morrow is a long 1 too! going back 2 bed!

I heard #Gaza got bombed AGAIN pffttt

One of the last explosions took place in the al-Tuffah neighborhood and there are initial reports of injuries. ( still unconfirmed) #Gaza

Israeli Apachis bombarding areas eastern #Gaza city #NOW

#Breaking : Another explosion north #gaza now

BREAKING: 2 injured in #Gaza now!

#Gaza is being attacked again by #IOF. News about 5 injuries so far

BREAKING: the nightly #IOF bombing of #Gaza has started

The area hit by an Israeli airstrike was Zaytoun, #Gaza via@annepaq #Zionism

Israeli Apache targeted a metalwork shop in Zaytoon neighborhood in Eastern #Gaza with 1 missile, 1 reported injury till now! v@Omar_Gaza

Initial reports: Israeli Apache targeted a metalwork shop in Zaytoon neighborhood Eastern #Gaza with 1 missile,1 reported injury till now!

Explosions heard Eastern #Gaza

News from Syria 18.02.2012

#Damascus, Al-Mezzeh: From a medical source 170 people were wounded today by sec forces gunfire, 35 in a critical state. (Via UgaritNews)

#FreeRazan #Syria Sister is home 🙂 but she can’t leave the country anymore…they won’t allow her :S

#Kafarsooseh #Damascus #Syria – 18th feb 2012 anti government demonstration kicked off at 8 pm outside al-Nazeer…

France 24 correspondent in #Syria says authorities have released activists Yara Badre, Hanadi Zahlout and Razan Ghazzawi

Assad has killed more than 8000 people in response to some kids writing anti-Assad slogans on a wall. This is how it all started

Video: thousands protest in Mezze, Damascus, during snowstorm #syria

To those trying to smear Syria’s revolution because Basma Qadamani made some “positive” remarks about Israel: Fuck you.#Syria

At least 21 killed in #Syria as mass protest erupts close to Assad’s palace in Damascus

Summary of events in Homs today: Homs, a bleeding wound, while the world watches For the 16th day in a row Homs (cont)

Medics: Two wounded in Israeli helicopter strikes in Gaza

Gaza – Two Palestinian civilians were wounded in an Israeli airstrike on a metal workshop Saturday night in southern Gaza City, medics and witnesses said.

The witnesses said they heard two explosions as an Israeli army helicopter fired two missiles at a goldsmith shop in a two-storey building in the Zeitoon neighbourhood in southern Gaza City.

Black smoke was seen billowing from the flaming building, where firefighters and rescue crews rushed after the missile strikes.

Medics in Gaza City said that two bystanders were moderately injured and were taken to a hospital.

Security sources in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip said that police and security evacuated all police stations and security headquarters for fear of intensive Israeli retaliation to rocket attacks by Palestinian militants earlier Saturday against southern Israel.

Around noon, three Grad rockets were fired from eastern Gaza and landed near the southern Israeli city of Beer Sheba. No injuries were reported, and no one claimed responsibility for the attack.

( / 18.02.2012)

At least 21 killed in Syria as mass protest erupts close to Assad’s palace in Damascus

Thousands of protesters proceeded with demonstrations in Damascus against the Syrian regime during a funeral procession for three protesters killed on Friday. (Reuters)

Thousands of protesters proceeded with demonstrations in Damascus against the Syrian regime during a funeral procession for three protesters killed on Friday.
At least 21 people were killed during mass opposition protests in the Syria on Saturday, including one in the capital Damascus where a large demonstration was held close to the presidential palace.

The protest in Damascus broke out during a funeral procession held for three people killed by security forces on Friday.

An activist who witnessed the violence said the procession numbered around 15,000, the largest in the capital since the 11-month-old uprising against President Assad began. It took place in al-Maza neighborhood overlooking the presidential palace.

“It was a huge funeral that turned into a protest,” said the activist, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. “There was no fear among the participants.”

Amateur videos filmed by activists and posted online showed a crowd of people shouting “Allahu Akbar,” or God is great, and “One, one, one, the Syrian people are one!”

Maza is considered home to a fortified intelligence building where protesters are detained and tortured, and it has other places where the military intelligence has tortured soldiers who backtracked and rejected orders to shoot at civilian protesters. The tight-security area has various diplomatic headquarters and government institutions.

On Friday, anti-regime protests spread to al-Hamadiya neighborhood near al-Amawi mosque in Damascus, where dozens of people were killed.

Areas such as al-Qadar, al-Hajr al-Aswad, Kafr Sousa, al-Barza have all seen anti-regime protests.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Council for Civilian Protection said that crimes against humanity are being directed against Syrians and that self-defense is a legal right as well as defending public sectors.

The council said that there is increasing defection by the Syrian soldiers, and added that a group of defected soldiers announced the formation of the “Capital’s Martyrs” brigade.

On Saturday, the Syrian opposition said that more than 2,500 Syrian soldiers have defected, making the number the largest. In a Youtube video, the defected Syrian soldiers were shown swearing their allegiance to protect their country.

Diplomatic front

The fresh violence erupted during a visit by an envoy from China, which along with Russia recently supported Syria by vetoing a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have condemned Assad’s regime. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun called on all parties to stop violence that has killed more than 5,400 people since March of last year, according to the United Nations.

Tunisia, which hosted a first international conference on Syria in December and broke off ties with Damascus earlier this month, is hosting a “friends of Syria” conference next week, but Syrian opposition representatives are reportedly not invited to the event.

“There will certainly not be an official SNC representative” at the conference, Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafik Abdesalem told reporters while recognizing that the topic had caused wide debate.

“Each thing in time,” the minister said, adding that he hoped to see the creation of an opposition group with “real representation.”

The SNC said last week recognition by the Arab League was imminent, though members did not specify the extent of recognition they expected.

Tunisia has invited members of the Arab League and the European Union, along with the United States, to attend the February 24 conference.

Abdesalem confirmed invitations were also sent to Russia and China, the two powers have that have gone furthest to defend the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

( / 18.02.2012)

Hungry for Freedom, Starving for Justice: a story of hunger striker Adnan Khader

By Mira Dabit

Sometimes when I ponder about being a Palestinian, my mind travels towards the direction of responsibility, a heavy load of existence, survival, humanity and freedom. A life where everything seems to be somehow a beautiful disaster.

When people ask me how I view myself, I answer that I’m a Palestinian woman – which in my mind equals a survivor, a human.

A few months ago on a Tuesday morning, I drove past the Israeli barrier wall in Bethlehem, and stared at this ugly grey structure that has destroyed the geography of a once-beautiful land, turning it into huge prison blocks and bantu stands. Feelings of pain and anger filled my heart as I tried my best to avoid looking at this thing that to me is a visual representation of the Israeli occupation … until I came upon a graffiti on the wall that read in huge letters “existence is resistance.” These three words filled my face with a smile and a sensation of pride and honor to belong to a people who have dedicated their life to the plight and hope of justice.

What fills my heart today is the struggle of Adnan Khader, a 33-year-old baker from a village near Jenin in the occupied West Bank. Adnan Khader is now entering his 62nd day on hunger strike after he was put under “Administrative Detention” – that is, imprisonment without trail or charge or evidence in Israeli jail.

Mr. Adnan Khader started his hunger strike protest on the 18th of December. His affiliation with an Islamic political group seems to be a good enough reason for being imprisoned in violation of his basic human right, stated in Article 19 of the UN bill of rights:  “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” So what was Adnan’s crime? Having opinions? Thinking differently than what Israel likes? What would the world be like if everyone who thought differently and expressed it was put in prison?

Khader Adnan’s life at the moment is in the hands of the Israeli military court, an arm of the colonial Israeli occupation of the land of Palestine. Earlier this week, an Israeli military court rejected an appeal against Adnan’s continued detention. The Israeli prison service has said Adnan was being dealt with in accordance to his “definition as a security-administrative prisoner.”

Adnan is using the power of his commitment to survive and endure his hunger, at least so far. But his situation medically is getting worse day by day, and the world is expecting his death. Nevertheless, those in solidarity with Khader work with the hope of some sort of “humanity or justice” to come from the Israeli military courts. Even now, surviving longer than almost any hunger striker in history, he holds on to the slight possibility of the dream of seeing his new-born child as a free man in a free, just Palestine, in a world in which his children deserve to grow up, a place where the power of justice and human dignity creates peace.

For today dear friends, lets take a moment to honor Mr. Khader Adnan and tell his story, because maybe, just maybe his love for freedom can transfer to us and to the world around us to make us as strong as a man, just a man willing to give his life so his country can live.

History has managed to pigeonhole Palestinians into a category of either “terrorists” or “victim” of a certain political imperialist scenario; somehow the constant struggle to find a dictionary definition of what it is to be a Palestinian creates an explosion of discourse and political rhetoric rather than simplifying it to “human” or “person.”

Mr. Newt Gingrich believes we are invented. However, I talked to my parents and asked them if I was invented. They said no! And I actually believe them! For me my own definition of Palestinian would be: “a person or persons who were forced into a scenario where life became a constant fight for survival, for freedom.”

( / 18.02.2012)

Hamas media: Egypt to pump fuel to Gaza


GAZA CITY (Ma’an) – An Egyptian People’s Assembly official announced Saturday that Egypt has decided to pump fuel to the Gaza Strip to run the sole power plant starting Sunday.

Sayyid Najida, head of the assembly’s industry and energy committee, told Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV that 500,000 liters of fuel would ship per day for the power plant and 100,000 for gas stations.

Smuggling fuel into the coastal enclave has stopped because Egyptian smugglers have requested an increase in their share of the profits, but Gaza merchants and ministries refused.

( / 18.02.2012)

Israeli Liberals: All Because of the Arabs

Ari Shavit, senior correspondent for Haaretz and a member of the newspaper’s editorial board, is busy with apologetics for Israeli policy. And he is not alone.

In the Israeli press, Ari Shavit serves as an updated but certainly not improved version of Dan Margalit from the 1980s. Every regime requires an advocate from the liberal opposition, and the Israeli government is no exception. The fact that these advocates seemingly write from a critical perspective awards even more force for their apologetics of government actions against which they purportedly stand. In the 1980s and 1990s this role was filled by Dan Margalit, but since 2000 he has been replaced by Ari Shavit.

No small part of Israeli public opinion, and that of the entire international community, knows that responsibility for failure of what is dubbed the peace process falls entirely on the shoulders of the various Israeli governments, from Peres through Netanyahu. Even Bill Clinton’s advisor in Camp David, Robert Malley, acknowledged, albeit with a fatal delay, that the “generous offers” of Ehud Barak never existed and that responsibility for failure of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is primarily that of Israel. Neither Barak, Sharon or Netanyahu intended to halt Israel’s settlement project and conduct bona fide negotiations for peace with the Palestinians, and they successfully acted to doom all attempts at Israeli-Palestinian peace founded in an end to the Israeli occupation.

To the credit of Benjamin Netanyahu he never concealed, then or now, his disdain for negotiations with the Palestinians and an end to the Israeli occupation. Despite the pleas of Mahmoud Abbas and the requests – ever so polite  – of Barack Obama to extend a hand to the Palestinian president and stop presenting him as an empty vessel, the Israeli position is one of refusal. Everyone knows this, including the American administration. The latest declaration of the Turkish Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, worryingly expresses this (Anatolia News Agency, 11 February): “Enough is enough! The longer the Palestinian-Israeli issue remains unresolved, the greater the price peoples of the region, including Turkey, pay. Israelis should decide on they want, {…} The status quo cannot continue, and the Palestinians deserve their own state.”

There were times when Israeli liberals didn’t hesitate to clearly say this. These times, however, have passed, and a recent article by Ari Shavit testifies to this. He writes, without blushing: “After Israel gave (?) the Palestinians the Gaza Strip, a first bus exploded in Dizengoff Center (Tel Aviv). After Israel gave the Palestinians Nablus and Ramallah, buses began exploding in Jerusalem and central Tel Aviv. After Israel offered the Palestinians the establishment of a sovereign state on a majority of the occupied territory – they responded with war and terror {…} After Israel retreated from southern Lebanon, a Shi’ite missile base was established there which threatens every spot in Israel. After Israel left Gush Katif, an armed Hamastan was established in Gaza which attacked (Israel’s) south {…}After we absorbed endless blows,  reasonable and moderate Israelis (such as Ari Shavit) lost their faith in reconciliation (and believe) there is no one to whom we can give the territories.”

This is not journalism or an opinion piece, but the cheapest type of propaganda possible. Like all professional political propagandists, Shavit is willing to sacrifice the truth for the goal, which is justification of Israeli policy. Like every propagandist, Shavit knows the truth – and in the past even wrote about it himself – and he lies with a straight face. We’ve already mentioned the huge lie of Barak concerning his “generous offers”, a lie which will enter history as one of the biggest manipulations of public opinion ever. Prior to the attacks in Jerusalem came Israel’s murder of Yahya Ayyash –which the head of the General Security Services (GSS) had warned Peres would result in a renewal of the attacks which had hitherto ceased completely. (Ten years prior, Israeli bombs in Lebanon put an end to the ceasefire that Palestinians had carefully maintained for 11 months, and thus began the first Lebanon War, which became the biggest fiasco in Israeli army history.It is incredibly difficult to believe this was not intentional). The exploding buses in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, those same buses mentioned by Shavit, began after Israel (and again, Shimon Peres) announced that negotiations were suspended…in order to improve “unity of the people” and following the murder of Rabin. The state of Israel did not conduct any negotiations for its withdrawal from Lebanon, just as it did not do so for its redeployment from Gaza. Israel simply got out, ran, because the other alternative was to pay for its actions. And before the rockets from Gaza, there was not only a cruel siege that was condemned by the entire international community, but murder of the local leadership and bombing of population centres. What does Shavit expect? That the Palestinians would respond to these attacks with flowers? The truth is actually that the “reasonable and moderate” Palestinians are the ones who lost faith that Israel will be a partner to negotiations for a future reconciliation. And Shavit’s final claim insults the intelligence of the reader: “no one to whom we can give the territories”. During the time of Yasser Arafat, people such as Shavit were accustomed to claiming the head of the PLO was a terrorist unwilling to compromise, while Abu Mazen was the cultured man, a compromising moderate. And what did they do with Abu Mazen when he was selected to head the PLO and begged to continue the negotiations? They ignored him, insulted him and said…that he represents no one.

Why do I prefer people such as Yitzhak Shamir over Dan Margalit and Ari Shavit? Because when Shamir said “the Arabs are the same Arabs, the Jews are the same Jews and the sea is the same sea”, he believed this nonsense. Ari Shavit doesn’t believe any of his own claims. He is too busy with propaganda.

( / 18.02.2012)

Abbas: Unity govt will commit to PLO principles

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — President Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday that a new Palestinian interim cabinet appointed jointly by Fatah and Hamas will be committed to the principles of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

The umbrella-body, which represents the Palestinians in international fora, has recognized Israel’s right to exist and negotiates with Israel on behalf of the Palestinians.

Under the 2011 deal between Hamas and Fatah to end four years of divided governments in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Hamas indicated it would join the PLO and has participated in reform committees looking at the historic organization’s structures.

But after Hamas chief-in-exile Khalid Mashaal agreed in early February to form a new government headed by Abbas, Gaza-based leaders of his party protested he had gone too far.

The party heads had previously signed up to establish a common national strategy, however Hamas officials in Gaza reiterated their long-term opposition to talks with Israel when PLO officials briefly opened exploratory talks with an Israeli envoy last month.

The January talks failed to lead to peace negotiations, as Palestinian officials protested that Israel would not stop building illegal settlements on Palestinian land nor present credible proposals on their position for restarting talks.

Even without talks on the horizon, the split over national strategy has been a key division between the factions. The international community helped scupper the last Palestinian government when it insisted Hamas recognize past agreements with Israel after the party won national elections.

But Abbas assured that the program of the new government will follow the PLO path, after a meeting with the Italian Consul in Jerusalem on Saturday.

Abbas stressed to Consul Giampaolo Cantini as they met in Ramallah that it is vital to follow-through on the parties’ reconciliation deal, as it represents a “national achievement.”

The Palestinian parliament and elections have been on hold since the parties split into rival governments in 2007, in the wake of fierce clashes after Hamas won a national poll and was shunned by the international community.

( / 18.02.2012)