Khader Adnan ends hunger strike after Israel agrees to free him

Khader Adnan at work in his bakery in the occupied West Bank Village of Qabatiya near Jenin, 21 June 2013.

Ahmad Al-Bazz ActiveStills

Palestinian political prisoner Khader Adnan ended his 55-day hunger strike early on Monday, after Israel agreed to release him on 12 July, his lawyer Jawad Boulos has told media.

This is a significant victory for Adnan, a 37-year old baker and father of six, who had been near death.

“All the guarantees which Sheikh Khader asked for have been obtained, and so he triumphed over the occupation state after 55 days of hunger strike,” Adnan’s wife Randa told Ma’an News Agency.

Adnan had launched his total hunger strike on 7 May to protest the renewal of his “administrative detention” without charge or trial.

At a press conference Monday morning in Ramallah, Randa said “Thank God that my husband is coming back to us victorious.”

She described her family’s joy, saying it felt like “eid” – the holiday that will come at the end of the present fasting month of Ramadan – had already begun “the moment we knew that Khader would eat, that Khader would live.”

Randa Adnan thanked supporters from all over Palestine and around the world who had stood by the family during their latest ordeal. She praised the many other Palestinian prisoners who had offered to launch hunger strikes in solidarity with her husband.

Difficult visit

In the tense hours of Sunday afternoon, Adnan’s family and many supporters began gathering at Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in present-day Israel, where Adnan is being detained. Social media users posted pictures and videos of the scene near the hospital, like this one.

Adnan’s family were allowed to visit him on Sunday for the first time since his hunger strike began. In her press conference, Randa said that hearing about her husband’s critical condition had not prepared her for seeing him. She said that before she entered the room she heard his strong voice welcoming his family, but when she saw how weak he looked, she had difficulty maintaining her composure.

In recent weeks, as his health deteriorated, calls for his release mounted. The International Committee of the Red Cross expressed its concern that his life was at “immediate risk.”

Randa said that when she left Adnan’s room she thought it would be the last time she would see him alive.

Randa and his elderly father Adnan Mousa then announced that they would begin an open-ended hunger strike on the hospital grounds until Adnan’s demands were met.

A sticking point in the negotiations had reportedly been Adnan’s demand that Israel not only free him but guarantee it would not rearrest him.

An Israeli official told the French news agency AFP that a deal to free Adnan on 12 July was struck once he withdrew that demand.

Adnan, a member of the resistance organization Islamic Jihad, was arrested a year ago. In February 2012, Adnan ended a 66-day hunger strike that forced Israel to release him from a previous stint of detention without charge or trial.

His earlier strike galvanized international attention on the issue of Israel’s detention and abuses of Palestinians.

In 2012, Amnesty International issued a report detailing the human rights abuses associated with administrative detention, which, it said, Israel uses to “suppress the legitimate and peaceful activities of activists in the occupied Palestinian Territories.”

Amnesty called for the “immediate and unconditional release” of prisoners held under this policy. There are currently more than 500 Palestinians in administrative detention, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.