The death of hunger striker Khader Adnan underscores Israel’s totalitarian laws regarding Palestinians, the massive overuse of administrative detention, the criminalization of peaceful resistance, and the cruelty of the prison system…
Nearly 56 years ago Israel issued Military Order 101 – still in effect today – that forbids Palestinians from normal activities, like gathering in a group of more than ten people, if that gathering “could be construed as political,” or displaying a Palestinian flag, without a permit.
The order also forbids the publication of any material “having political significance” – even in a Palestinian newspaper or on social media…
Another military order empowers Israeli authorities to imprison Palestinians for “incitement” if they try to “influence public opinion” in a way not to Israel’s liking, or if they express support for organizations Israel does not approve of…
by Kathryn Shihadah
If the world is to learn anything from the life and death of Palestinian hunger striker Khader Adnan, it is this: that the Israeli military system is irreparably immoral and irredeemable.
Khader Adnan attempted to call attention to this fact, and was thwarted at every turn.
Nearly 8 of Adnan’s 45 years were spent behind Israeli bars, including over 400 days on various hunger strikes. Most of that time was spent under administrative detention – a practice that circumvents due process.
When he was detained on February 5, 2023, Khader Adnan immediately began a hunger strike in protest – his last. According to his wife, Randa, Israel responded by preparing an indictment for him, apparently in the hope that he would end his strike and behave like a proper prisoner. No publicity, no negotiation, no PR disaster.
Israeli authorities provided a list of charges – not for terrorism or even using a weapon, but for membership in a Palestinian organization Israel considers illegal, and for “incitement” – largely consisting of peaceful public events for prisoners, memorial ceremonies, visits to families of martyrs, and funerals.
Adnan was undeterred. He found the trumped-up charges to be just as illegitimate as administrative detention, and vowed to continue his protest until the charges were dropped.
The indictment that Israel hoped would silence him only served to highlight another of Israel’s ruthless policies toward Palestinians: the criminalization of peaceful resistance.
Adnan exposed not only the injustice of administrative detention, but also the facade of the Israeli military legal system, in which any action that does not serve Israel may become a punishable offense.
And in green-lighting Khader Adnan’s death, Israel has now also exposed the cruelty – and apartheid nature – of its entire system.
The criminalization of Palestinian civic consciousness
Israel’s contempt for Palestinian life
Israel knew Adnan was near death, and made calculated choices to bring it about. Eyewitnesses to his demise have declared it a “willful” and “deliberate” killing. Israeli prison authorities denied him the medical attention he required, and burdened his weak body with unnecessary strain, including torture.
Khader Adnan was not an isolated case.
Over 1,000 Palestinians are currently under administrative detention, imprisoned without a chance of due process.
3,900 more are political prisoners, sentenced or awaiting trial in a military court overseen entirely by Israeli Jews and conducted in Hebrew, that boasts a 99.6 percent conviction rate.
Over 800,000 Palestinians – 40 percent of the male population – have been detained or arrested.
Over 400 Palestinian organizations, including all of the major Palestinian political parties, have been declared illegal by Israel – and thousands of Palestinians have been arrested for participating in these groups.
Israel has flipped the script on Palestinian hunger strikers by referring to them as “terrorists,’” and their nonviolent strategy as a “new type of suicide attacks.”
In short, if you are Palestinian, any action can be criminalized. Adnan is just the latest fatality.
Kathryn Shihadah is an editor and staff writer for If Americans Knew. She also blogs at Palestine Home.
FURTHER READING ON PALESTINIAN HUNGER STRIKES:
- Why were these Palestinian prisoners willing to die of starvation?
- Palestinian hunger strikes: growing resistance against growing Israeli crimes
- Palestinian prisoner reaches deal with Israel to end his detention, concludes hunger strike
- Palestinian on hunger strike in Israeli jail ‘on verge of death’
- AP and Amnesty International: Are you just waiting for him to die?
FURTHER READING ON ADMINISTRATIVE DETENTION:
- American senior citizen from Ohio held by Israel since 2021
- For Over a Year, Israel Has Jailed a Palestinian Teen With a Rare Disease. There’s No Trial in Sight
- Israel is Afraid of Khalida Jarrar
- Israel Police Prevented Palestinian Detainee from Breastfeeding Her Baby