Dying to live: The imprisonment of Khader Adnan and Israel’s use of detention without trial
On December 17, 2011, Israeli soldiers arrested 33-year-old Khader Adnan, a baker and master's candidate in economics at Birzeit University, in the middle of the night at his home in the town of Arraba, near Jenin, in the occupied West Bank. ***image2***Although Israeli authorities have accused the husband and father of two young children of being a member of the militant group Islamic Jihad, they have refused to charge him with a crime or share the secret evidence they claim to have against him. Instead, he's being held in "administrative detention," which allows for the indefinite imprisonment of suspects without charge or trial, a procedure that has been roundly condemned by Israeli and international human rights organizations. To protest the conditions under which he and other Palestinian detainees and prisoners are being held, Adnan has been on a hunger strike since he was first detained, now totaling 58 days as of February 13. Adnan, who is believed to be the longest hunger-striking Palestinian detainee, is refusing all food and liquids except water. As is commonly the case for Palestinian detainees and prisoners in Israeli jails, he has been subjected to prolonged periods of interrogation and isolation, as well as physical abuse and unsanitary conditions. Numerous international and human rights bodies have denounced Israel's treatment of Khader Adnan and its practice of administrative detention, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process, and the eleven organizations comprising the Palestinian Council of Human Rights Organizations. Since his hunger strike started, Adnan has lost 42 kilos (92.4 pounds). A recent examination by Physicians for Human Rights - Israel assessed his life to be at risk. Adnan has refused health examinations by prison officials, and Israel has denied him further access to independent medical personnel. Shackled to a bed in Ziv Hospital inside of Israel, Adnan's two young daughters and pregnant wife have only been permitted to visit him twice. On February 2, Palestinian prisoners in three different Israeli jails began hunger striking in solidarity with Adnan, while his father began a hunger strike on February 6. Palestinian Prisoners in Israel:
- Israel uses a procedure known as administrative detention to imprison Palestinians without charge or trial.
- There are currently between 307 and 315 Palestinians being held in administrative detention.
- There is currently one Palestinian child being held in administrative detention.
General Facts & Figures
- Since Israel began its military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip following the 1967 War, Israel has imprisoned upwards of 700,000 Palestinians, or about 20 percent of the population of the occupied territories.
- According to the Israel Prison Service, at the end of December 2011 there were approximately 4,200 Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons, including between 307 and 315 who were being held in administrative detention without charge or trial. According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights the number of Palestinians in Israeli prisons is actually more than 6,000.
- Those who are charged are subjected to Israeli military courts that human rights organizations have criticized for failing to meet the minimum standards required for a fair trial.
- In 2010, 99.74 percent of Palestinians tried before Israel's military courts were convicted.
- According to Amnesty International’s 2011 Annual Report on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories: “Palestinians in the [occupied territories] subject to Israel’s military justice system continued to face a wide range of abuses of their right to a fair trial. They are routinely interrogated without a lawyer and, although they are civilians, are tried before military not ordinary courts.”
- The same Amnesty report states: “Consistent allegations of torture and other ill-treatment, including of children, were frequently reported. Among the most commonly cited methods were beatings, threats to the detainee or their family, sleep deprivation, and being subjected to painful stress positions for long periods. Confessions allegedly obtained under duress were accepted as evidence in Israeli military and civilian courts.”
- Two thousand Palestinian prisoners began a hunger strike in October 2011 to protest the conditions in which they were being held.
- Since September 2000, Israel has arrested and imprisoned more than 7,000 Palestinian children.
- Like all Palestinians from the occupied territories, they are subjected to Israeli military tribunals.
- As of December 2011, there were 135 Palestinian minors being held in Israeli prisons. Of those, 19 were between the ages of 12-15.
- Palestinian children are frequently arrested in the middle of the night by Israeli soldiers, taken away without their parents, and roughly interrogated without a guardian or lawyer present.
- According to a recent report by the Israeli NGO No Legal Frontiers, which followed the cases of 71 Palestinian children as they made their way through the Israeli military court system:
- The most common offense was throwing stones and Molotov cocktails. In most cases the object was not actually thrown, did not hit a target, or cause any damage. In no case was serious harm caused.
- In 94 percent of cases the children were held in pre-trial detention and not released on bail.
- In 100 percent of cases, the children were convicted of an offense.
- 87 percent of them were subjected to some form of physical violence while in custody.
- Under pressure from human rights organizations and children's rights advocates, the Israeli army recently announced that it would raise the age that Palestinians are treated as adults from 16 to 18 years of age, however, critics complain that Palestinian children are still subject to the same unjust and abusive treatment accorded Palestinian adults.