Palestinian to be freed by Israel after 56-day hunger strike

Khader Adnan (Reuters / Mohamad Torokman)
A lawyer for a Palestinian held prisoner in Israel says he will be released in exchange for ending a 56-day hunger strike. Khader Adnan is set to be set free on July 12, after spending around a year in jail without being charged.

"Khader Adnan ended his hunger strike last night, after an agreement was reached to release him on July 12," his lawyer Jawad Boulos said, as cited by AFP.

Following just under two months without food, his health has taken a turn for the worst. His wide Randa said on Monday after visiting the 37-year-old in an Israeli hospital that he had lost a lot of weight and "looked like a small child." She said he was unable to hold their 15-month-old son, AP reported.

Israeli doctors at the hospital where he has been transferred to are now looking at different ways to start feeding him again. During his hunger strike, he only drank water.

Adnan has been in hospital for the last three weeks and much of the time he has been shackled to his bed, which is in keeping with Israeli Prisons Service instructions. Three Israeli police officers are in his room around the clock to keep watch over him, according to Haaretz.

On Saturday, his lawyer mentioned that, “Khader Adnan may suddenly die at any moment, doctors have confirmed to me,” Boulos, who is also the legal counsel for the Ramallah-based Prisoners Club, told AFP.

Adnan is accused of being a senior member of Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian militant group, which is alleged to have carried out deadly attacks on Israeli citizens. He was held for a year under administrative detention, which allows people to be held in prison without for charge for six months at a time. This was the 10th time he had held by the Israeli authorities.

He was detained around a year ago, following the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli youths, which led to hundreds of Palestinians being detained by Israeli forces. By the end of April, Israel was holding just under 400 people in administrative detention, according to the Israeli rights group, B’Tselem. The organization adds that Israel’s large-scale use of the practice violates international law.

One condition regarding his release was that Adnan would withdraw his demand that Israel would no longer be able to put him in administrative detention, an Israeli official told AFP.

This is not the first time that Adnan has launched a hunger strike. The father of six from the West Bank city of Jenin went without food for 66 days in 2012 to protest against his detention. On that occasion he had ingested vitamins and salt.

Just over two weeks ago, Israel’s cabinet approved a proposed law that would allow the authorities to force-feed Palestinian prisoners.

"Hunger strikes by imprisoned terrorists have become a weapon with which they are trying to threaten the State of Israel," Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan wrote on Facebook. "The cabinet's decision today sends a clear message: we will not blink in the face of any threat," Reuters reported.

However, the ruling brought criticism from the Israeli Medical Association, who said that force-feeding was a kind of torture and urged Israeli doctors not to implement the proposed legislation as it was also medically risky.