JERUSALEM (AP) — A high-profile Palestinian prisoner died in an Israeli detention center on Tuesday after a nearly three-month hunger strike at a time when tensions between Israel and Palestinians were already soaring. said the Israeli Prison Service.
Kader Adnan, leader of a Palestinian Islamic Jihad extremist group, is the first Palestinian prisoner to die since Palestinian prisoners launched a protracted hunger strike nearly a decade ago.After an 86-day hunger strike His death raises the possibility of renewed violence between extremist groups in Israel and Palestine amid a surge in violence in the West Bank.
Shortly after his death was announced, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired rockets into southern Israel. Palestinians called for a general strike in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with protests expected later in the day.
Israeli ultranationalist prison minister Itamar Ben-Gubir has raised the alert level at the facility, which his office described as a precautionary measure against riots.
Palestinian prisoners have staged lengthy hunger strikes for years to protest their detention and to demand concessions from Israel. This tactic has become a last resort in resistance to what the Palestinians see as unjust imprisonment. Prisoners often contract dangerous illnesses from refusing food, but death is rare.
Islamic Jihad spokesman Dawood Shahab called Adnan’s death “a perfect crime, for which the Israeli occupation bears full and direct responsibility.”
About 200 people gathered outside Adnan’s home in the occupied Arabah in the West Bank, holding placards depicting Adnan’s portrait and calling for revenge.
Palestinian prisoners are considered national heroes, and being seen as a threat to them while in Israeli custody can spark tension and violence. Since then, it has often granted requests for prisoners to be released or have their sentences shortened. Israel views Adnan and other Palestinian prisoners as security threats, accused of deadly attacks and involvement in conspiracies.
Adnan, 45, went on strike shortly after his arrest on February 5.
Over the years, he has been repeatedly arrested by Israel and became a steadfast symbol in the face of Israeli occupation when he launched a lengthy hunger strike more than a decade ago.
His six hunger strikes include a 66-day protest in 2012 and two strikes in 2015 and 2018 lasting 56 and 58 days respectively. Israel released Adnan after a 2015 strike. He is known for turning his hunger strike into a recurring instrument of protest among Palestinian detainees and a useful bargaining chip against the Israeli authorities.
According to the Palestinian Prisoners Club, which represents former and current inmates, Adnan was arrested 12 times and spent about eight years in Israeli prisons. Most of that time was spent in so-called administrative detention, where suspects are held indefinitely without charge or trial.
His death comes as Israel is led by the most right-wing government ever, and prisons and Palestinian prisoners have previously tightened restrictions on Palestinian inmates, including shortening shower times and closing prison bakeries. It happens when it’s directed by Ben-Gvir.
Ben-Gvir called on prison officials to show “zero tolerance to hunger strikes and unrest in security prisons” and ordered prisoners to be confined to solitary confinement.
According to Israeli human rights group HaMoked, Israel currently holds more than 1,000 Palestinians without charge or trial, the highest number since 2003.
That figure has increased over the past year as Israel carried out nearly nightly arrest raids in the occupied West Bank following a series of deadly Palestinian attacks in Israel in early 2022.
Israel says the controversial tactic helps authorities deter attacks, detain dangerous militants, and avoid leaking incriminating material for security reasons. Palestinians and rights groups say the system is widely abused, denies due process, and the sensitivity of the evidence makes it impossible for administrative detainees and their lawyers to defend.
Several Palestinians have staged protracted hunger strikes in recent years to protest administrative detention. In most cases, Israel eventually released them after their health deteriorated significantly. Many people have irreversible nerve damage. Four of his prisoners, who carried out his strikes in the 1970s and 1980s, died because they were forcibly fed by Israeli authorities. Force-feeding was forbidden to him until 2015, but Israeli law allowed judges to allow force-feeding in some circumstances. It is unclear whether the law was invoked.
Adnan’s lawyers and Israeli rights groups said Adnan’s condition was deteriorating and they had asked Israeli authorities to hospitalize him where he could best monitor his condition. Physicians from the rights group Human Rights Israel said a doctor who visited him a few days ago wrote a medical opinion outlining the imminent danger to his life, but those pleas were ignored.
“Hunger strikes are one of the few non-violent means left for Palestinians to combat Israel’s unfair legal system set in the context of its long occupation and apartheid regime,” the rights group said. said Dana Moss of “We hold the Israeli authorities responsible for his death.”
The Israeli prison service said Adnan was now charged with “involvement in terrorist activities.” Adnan was held in the prison’s medical facility, where he refused treatment “until the last moment” while legal proceedings were underway. He was found unconscious in his cell early Tuesday morning and was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Palestinian groups called for a general strike in Gaza, Jerusalem and cities in the West Bank on Tuesday, closing schools and businesses for what organizers called a “general day of mourning.”
The Israeli military said the missile, fired from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, landed in an open area and caused no damage. “Our fight continues and will not stop,” the Islamic Jihad extremist group said in a statement.
Israel has fought an 11-day war with Palestinian militants, including Islamic Jihad, in Gaza in May 2021.
Meanwhile, in the West Bank, where Israeli-Palestinian clashes have surged over the past year, Israeli officials said an Israeli man was slightly injured in what appeared to be Palestinian gunfire.
Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank have been embroiled in conflict over the past year. About 250 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli fires and 49 in Palestinian attacks on Israelis.
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