Palestinian prisoner on 55th day of hunger strike

Last Updated: Thursday, February 9, 2012 - 23:37

Jerusalem: In a high-stakes gamble, an
imprisoned member of a Palestinian militant group has waged a
hunger strike for almost two months, trying to draw attention
to Israel`s military justice system and its treatment of
detainees who can be held without charge for lengthy periods.

Khader Adnan, 33, has refused food for 55 days, making
his hunger strike the longest ever waged by a Palestinian
detainee. With his condition rapidly deteriorating, Israeli
authorities, who consider him a terrorist, are nonetheless
scrambling to keep him alive. His death could turn the
previously obscure Adnan into a Palestinian hero and set off
new violence.

Adnan, a member of the armed group Islamic Jihad, has
lost 27 kilogrammes and now weighs about 63 kilogrammes. His
skin is discoloured, his hair has fallen out, he cannot walk,
and he has been shackled to his bed, said lawyers and his wife
Randa, who have seen him in a series of Israeli hospitals.

He is drinking water that is occasionally enhanced with
electrolytes and vitamins he needs to keep him alive. His
condition is considered severe.

The protest could not only cost Adnan his life but could
also have political implications.

Islamic Jihad, an Iranian-backed militant group that has
killed dozens of Israelis in suicide bombings and other
attacks, has vowed to punish Israel if Adnan dies. The group
could fire rockets into Israel from its stronghold in the Gaza
Strip, where it has recently built up a powerful arsenal of
new weapons.

Adnan was a spokesman for Islamic Jihad in the West Bank.
It isn`t known if he directly participated in attacks on
Israelis, and officials would not say what he is suspected of.

Adnan is being held under a policy known as
"administrative detention," said his lawyer, Tamar
Peleg-Sryck. The system allows Israel to hold suspected
militants without charge based on secret information that is
not shared with lawyers. It is generally used in cases deemed
high-risk.

Adnan is being held under guard at an Israeli hospital,
and prison officials say they are watching his condition
closely. The prison service declined comment today, but
officials have said in the past that they have permission to
force feed Adnan if necessary.

Adnan`s lawyers appealed the detention order today at a
special hearing in the hospital, said Mahmoud Hassan, one of
his lawyers. There was no ruling and the judge could take a
week to give his decision.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, February 9, 2012 - 23:37

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