The recent death of a hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner inside an Israeli jail last week sparked new tensions between Israel and Palestine and raised fresh questions about the treatment of incarcerated prisoners in Israel.
Khader Adnan, a senior figure in Islamic Jihad, died inside a jail in Israel last week during a hunger strike prompting new flare-ups in the region after Israel refused to hand over his body.
Shortly after his death, air raid sirens blared in Southern Israel as Israeli forces and Palestinians exchanged rocket fire.
Israel accused Palestinians of firing 100 rockets shortly after Adnan’s death, including two that evaded its air defenses. Three people were injured, including one seriously, the Financial Times reported.
Yoav Gallant, the Israeli defense minister, criticized the rocket attacks and said, “Anyone who attempts to harm the citizens of Israel will be sorry.”
The New York Times reported that it is a “practice” in Israel to keep the bodies of deceased Palestinian prisoners to use as leverage in a later trade, but Adnan’s death was rare in the Israeli prison system because he was the first to die during a hunger strike in more than 30 years.
“It’s collective punishment,” Hasan Jabareen, the director of Adalah, Palestinian human rights organization, told the paper. “These are bodies of people who live under Israeli occupation.”
The paper noted that Naftali Bennett, the former prime minister, admitted in 2020 that Israel hoards the bodies of “terrorists in order to hurt and put pressure on the other side.” He said these bodies are eventually used as bargaining chips.
Israel is believed to have kept about 130 bodies – most held in freezers – since 2015.
Adnan’s hunger strike stretched for 87 days and Israeli authorities said he refused medical intervention inside Israel’s Ramle prison. Adnan, a baker, had been arrested on suspicion of supporting terrorism in the occupied West Bank. His family called the charges bogus.
His hunger strike was intended to draw attention to the systematic arbitrary detention of Palestinians and cruel and inhumane treatment of prisoners, Amnesty International said.
He was 45 and left behind nine children and a wife.
TRENDPOST: Amnesty International said Adnan’s death in prison is an example of Israel’s cruel treatment of Palestinian prisoners and a “reminder of the deadly cost that Palestinians pay for challenging Israel’s apartheid and a military justice system rigged against them.” (See “APARTHEID STATE OF ISRAEL CLAMPING DOWN ON PALESTINIANS” 26 Apr 2022, “AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: ISRAEL’S TREATMENT OF PALESTINIANS AMOUNTS TO APARTHEID” 8 Feb 2022 and “ISRAEL KILLS 3 MORE PALESTINIANS DURING ANOTHER DEADLY WEEK” 14 Mar 2023.)
Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth told The New York Times in May 2021 that the “oppression of Palestinians there has reached a threshold and a performance that meets the definitions of the crimes of apartheid and persecution.”
Palestinians have been making the claim about the conditions there since the 1960s. President Jimmy Carter agreed with this back in 2006, and there is a growing number of Jewish human-rights groups that also make the claim. Jerusalem-based B’Tselem also made the claim.
Ehud Barak, the former prime minister, warned that Israel risked becoming an apartheid state unless peace was made with the Palestinians.
“Israel has established and maintained an institutionalized regime of oppression and domination of the Palestinian population for the benefit of Jewish Israelis—wherever it has exercised control over Palestinians’ lives since 1948,” Amnesty’s report summary said.
We also remind our readers that in the 1967 six-day war, Israel invaded and seized Palestinian territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza Strip, and the Syrian Golan Heights, expelling some 300,000 Palestinians from their homes, while gaining stolen territory that was three and a half times its original size. To date, some 670,000 Israelis live in the occupied West Bank.
Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. They violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 which states, “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”
Left Alone to Die
Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, accused Israel of denying Adnan access to the specialized care and left him to die alone in his cell.
Physicians for Human Rights Israel told the FT that it attempted to get Israel’s health ministry to keep the inmate at a hospital because he had been facing “imminent death” but the request fell on deaf ears.
TRENDPOST: Adnan was famous for his hunger strikes. In 2011, he refused food for 66 days while held in administrative detention, without charge or trial, Muhammad Al-Qeeq, a journalist, wrote in Middle East Eye.
He wrote: “I knew Adnan didn’t like death or suffering. He loved life, but he wanted a life that was free of injustice and humiliation – the type of life he lived when he was with his wife and children. He saw hunger striking as the most powerful weapon he had that would allow him to return to this life as soon as possible.”
TREND FORECAST: Palestinians are facing a hardline Israeli government that will only make conditions worse in the region by continuing its illegal land grab that is completely ignored in the Western media.
The increased tensions are playing out daily.
A 19-year-old Palestinian from the town of Sandala was killed during a “road rage brawl” on Saturday, according to Middle East Eye. The 19-year-old could be seen arguing with an Israeli man on the side of a road who eventually pulled a gun, the report said.
Israeli police say the alleged gunman is 32 years old and was driving without a valid license and under the influence.
“What happened was a result of deep-seated hatred towards our town. We have recently noticed increased hatred towards Sandala’s youth,” the man’s family told reporters.