Last chance appeal for near-death Palestinian hunger striker

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Palestinians hold images of prisoner Khader Adnan, who has been on hunger strike since December 18 while being held in an Israeli jail, during a protest in the West Bank city of Ramallah on 6 February 2012. (Photo: AFP - Abbas Momani)

Published Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The family of 52-day Palestinian hunger striker Khader Adnan have appealed for an Israeli court to release him before he dies, with his wife describing his condition as “horrifying.”

Adnan is due in court on Thursday to appeal a decision to uphold his four-month sentence amid increasing fears about his safety.

Rights groups have criticized the decision to keep him in jail as Adnan, who is seriously ill and refusing minerals, is in serious danger of organ failure.

Adnan has been on hunger strike since his detention on 17 December in protest against Israel's consistent violations of human rights, according to Jerusalem-based NGO Addameer.

He has been detained without being charged for a crime, with the Israeli military claiming he was involved with Islamic Jihad.

Such accusations are common to justify continued Israeli detention of Palestinians, including women and children, but evidence is rarely produced to support the claim.

Adnan is being held under an administrative detention order that allows Israel to detain those considered a threat to the country’s security for up to six months without charge.

His lawyers are asking for the administrative detention order to be cancelled and for him to be released.

Earlier this week an Israeli court confirmed the original four-month detention given, despite hearing of Adnan's rapidly deteriorating health conditions.

Outraging family and activists, Judge Dalya Kaufman claimed Adnan’s medical condition was “acceptable” and provides no grounds for shortening or canceling the order.

Adnan will appeal the ruling on Thursday at a military court in Ofer. This is his final appeal within the military system, but if it is denied he has the right to go to the Israeli High Court.

The last medical examination that Adnan received was on 29 January, when Physicians for Human Rights doctors examined him. The doctors stated that in the event of organ failure, his condition could become life-threatening.

A representative for Addameer, which advocates prisoner's rights, confirmed to Al-Akhbar that his wife had visited Adnan on Tuesday.

“We just spoke to his wife who was able to visit him yesterday with two of his daughters. She said his physical condition was horrifying,” the spokesman said.

“He is incredibly small and his clothes haven’t been changed and he hasn’t showered since being arrested. His nails haven’t been cut and there were blotch marks on his face and his teeth.”

Despite the terrible state, Adnan remains conscience and is able to communicate.

“She said his mental state is still fine. He was very aware and he was able to speak to them,” the spokesman added.

“His daughter, aged four, was asking why her father looked like that and why can't they take him home,” he added.

Adnan is currently in Safed in northern Israel, but it is believed the military plans to to take him back to Ofer Prison in the coming days.

His personal lawyer is currently prevented from visiting him, contrary to international law, though a lawyer from Addameer has been permitted to visit.

A Physician for Human Rights doctor was due to inspect Adnan in jail on Wednesday to report on his conditions.

Beyond 50 days hunger strikers are in serious danger of death due to organ failure. Infamous Irish hunger striker Bobby Sands died in 1981 after 66 days of refusing food in a protest at British rule over the country.

Human rights group Amnesty International has called on Israel to either charge or release Adnan.

“For years Israel has been using administrative detention to lock up Palestinian activists without charge or trial, said Ann Harrison, Amnesty's Deputy Director for the Middle East.

“Military commanders can renew the detention orders repeatedly, so in effect detainees can be held indefinitely. The process violates their right to a fair trial which is guaranteed by international law Israel is obliged to uphold.”

(Al-Akhbar)

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