Victory of Hunger Striker #KhaderAdnan Partial

(Illustration: Nidal El-khairy)

The Palestinian prisoners’ movement will never forget Khader Adnan. Its history will record that his “battle of the empty intestines,” as Palestinians refer to prisoners’ open hunger strike, lasted the longest.

Adnan was able to do what hasn’t been done in a long time. His story turned the cause of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails into major headlines. It also shed much needed light on the practice of administrative detention that allows Israel to detain Palestinians indefinitely without charges or trial.

Administrative detention falls within the scope of arbitrary Israeli measures against Palestinians living under occupation. The Israeli occupation authorities can renew orders for administrative detention indefinitely without having to charge detainees.

Adnan went on a hunger strike not only to end his own detention, but to object, as a matter of principle, to the practice of administrative detention in general. And when he agreed to end his hunger strike, he did so after achieving what many have not been able to achieve.

Nevertheless, administrative detention continues to be used by the Israeli occupation authorities. Adnan’s case did not put an end to the travesty of justice that is administrative detention. However, it managed to shed light on the issue and put it before world public opinion.

While the world knows the names of Israeli prisoners like Gilad Shalit, Adnan’s case embodies some of the injustice that many Palestinian prisoners endure without the world’s attention or sympathy.

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” These words uttered by Mahatma Gandhi a long time ago aptly describe Adnan. With his sheer will, he triumphed over the prison and its guards and proved stronger than all the methods of torture, threats, and investigation techniques and terror.

The Israeli High Court of Justice was set to hold a hearing on the petition presented by Adnan through his attorney from the Prisoner’s club, Jawad Boulos.

The petition however was cancelled and Adnan ended his hunger strike after a deal was reached between the defense lawyer and the prosecution. The agreement stated that Adnan will be released on April 17 and his administrative detention order would not be renewed.

And so, after 66 days of the “dignity strike,” as Adnan called his hunger strike, the prisoner achieved a victory over the Israeli occupation not only for himself but for all prisoners.

This battle for survival is not new for this young man. He once led the “egg” attack on the former French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin when he was visiting Birzeit University in 2000 because Jospin described Hezbollah’s resistance against the Israeli occupation as “terrorism.”

Adnan has a B.Sc. in Mathematics and is a graduate student at Birzeit University. He owns a bakery and a store in his village of Arrabe near Jenin in the north of the West Bank, with which he supports his family, consisting of his wife and his two daughters, four-year-old Maaly and 18-month old Bisan, in addition to his two parents.Adnan was always playful with his wife, children, and parents whenever they visited him. He would read from the Holy Quran to give them moral support and he would reassure them that he is doing well even though he was exhausted and at the point of no return in terms of his hunger strike.

Adnan’s father talked to Al-Akhbar recently confirming that his son is in high spirits despite the decline in his physical well-being. He said: “Israel fears him with his hands and legs chained to a hospital bed because he is on a hunger strike to defend his dignity and the dignity of the prisoners and detainees, and because he is a proud man and I always say that God will not let my son lose because he derives his determination and strength from God Almighty.”

Adnan’s wife Randa, talking about the time when she, his daughters, his parents, his sister, his brother, and his nephew visited him in the hospital for about 45 minutes, said that her husband was joking around with them. He was trying to reassure them that he is fine, especially his parents because he is very attached to them. He would try to calm their anxiety over his condition especially after they saw his weak body.

Randa said that after the ninth week of her husband’s hunger strike she was afraid that she was on the way of becoming a widow. She said: “At night we would turn off our cell phones so as not receive the call informing us of his death.”

Informed sources told Al-Akhbar that the deal between the Israeli authorities and Adnan came about only after strong Egyptian intervention on his behalf.

Israeli Spokesperson to the Arab Media Ofir Gendelman wrote on his Facebook page: “There are no charges against the prisoner Adnan who said he ended his hunger strike after this decision,” adding that the prisoner would be released when his term ends on April 17.

For his part, the Palestinian Minister of Prisoner Affairs Issa Qaraqa said during a press conference, from a sit-in in Adnan’s village: “The will to freedom triumphed over the Israeli will to death through this hero, this symbol who challenged a nuclear state like Israel. This is a man who did not break, he did not tire, he persisted in his hunger strike until victory.” Qaraqa concluded by addressing Adnan: “You saved us many years, so thank you.”

The head of the Palestinian Prisoners Society, Qadura Fares, said: “The battle that Adnan waged is a turning point in the issue of administrative detentions.” He called on all Palestinian factions to devise a strategic plan against administrative detention.

Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset Ahmad Tibi said: “Khader won not with an M16 weapon, nor with a Kalashnikov or tank but with his will, which besieged the prison guard, putting the spotlight on his people as a whole.”

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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