An Islamic Jihad activist, being held without trial in administrative detention, called off his 68-day hunger strike Tuesday evening after Israel agreed to release him by April 17. Khader Adnan had been hospitalized at the Rebecca Sieff Hospital in Safed after his medical condition deteriorated during the hunger strike.
Adnan had filed a challenge to the High Court of Justice over the four-month administrative detention order against him. His petition was due to be heard on Tuesday, but shortly before the hearing, the prosecution and Adnan’s lawyer informed the court that the parties had reached an understanding as a result of which Adnan would withdraw his petition. The state agreed not to seek an extension of his administrative detention beyond April 17, when he is to be released.
Israeli authorities have defended its administrative detention policy for Palestinians as a way to address imminent security threats. They say that releasing evidence against suspects would endanger its network of informants.
Over 300 prisoners are currently in administrative detention. Petitions by administrative prisoners before the High Court of Justice are common. The maximum detention order is for six months, but it is usually renewed.
The detention order against Adnan was issued on January 8, about three weeks after he was arrested at his home in Arraba in the northern West Bank on accusations that he was an Islamic Jihad activist who posed a threat to security.
Adnan announced his hunger strike while under interrogation. He claimed that there was no justification for his administrative detention, that the authorities had no evidence justifying criminal charges against him and that he had been humiliated by his investigators.
His lawyer, Jawad Boulus, said common sense had prevailed in the case and that he hoped that the resolution of the petition would save the life of Adnan. Boulus said his client had been fighting a just cause and had brought about “an important precedent” on the issue of administrative detention.
If Adnan had been personally involved in acts of murder or attempted murder, it can be assumed the state would insisted on keeping him in detention. Adnan is thought to be a senior official of the Islamic Jihad in the northern West Bank, a prominent figure in the organization and an official spokesman who had publicly supported suicide bombings and the killing of Israeli civilians.
He has spent time in and out of both Israeli prisons and Palestinian Authority prisons in recent years, and has garnered much sympathy among the Palestinian public. His hunger strike this year not his first. Ironically, his success in obtaining an agreement for his release, in April, came after he resorted to non-violent means.
Boulus rejected the contention that the state had scored a victory in preventing Adnan’s immediate release. He argued that the state had compromised on its opening position that Adnan should remain in detention for the full four months initially ordered, without granting him credit for the time he spent under detention during his investigation.
Boulos also claimed that the settlement of the case, which was approved by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, cast doubt on two military court rulings based on confidential evidence that Adnan posed a threat to state security. Following the announcement of the settlement, a crowd gathered in Adnan’s village, including some who had fasted out of solidarity; a delegation of senior Palestinian Authority officials also came to congratulate his family. The resolution of the case brought some calm to the Palestinian street following demonstrations in the West Bank and confrontations with Israeli security forces over the issue.
There were also demonstrations on Adnan’s behalf in Israel itself. A rally in Nazareth scheduled for Tuesday evening was cancelled after Adnan called off his hunger strike.
Dr. Raymond Perah of the Sieff Hospital said Adnan will be gradually reintroduced to food. His hospital treatment could continue for several more days or possibly up to two weeks.
With reporting by AP.
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