“To my people, my family, and to the world’s free souls. . . I send my greetings, love, gratitude, and honour, which I draw from God, from your prayers for me, and from your sincere love… From my beloved al-Ramla city and its majestic minarets . . . I salute you again… I am not engaged in a personal fight for freedom. My battle is that of all Palestinian detainees who have been yearning for freedom and dignity…. Administrative detention is just one of the most despicable castigatory policies our people has ever witnessed. It shall forever stand as a scar on Britain’s and Israel’s face. From the bottom of my heart, I express my gratitude for your support and solidarity. May Allah restore our freedom so that we can rejoin our families soon. They [Israeli jailers] took it upon themselves to dash my hopes; I take it upon myself to win the fight by all means possible, God willing.”
Your brother and little son, Khader Adnan – Ramle clinic isolation.
With these words, Sheikh Khader Adnan addressed us, the Palestinian people, his people, from his isolation in Ramle prison. Our little son, as he preferred to sign his letter, is no stranger to Palestinian households nor is he a stranger to the entire free world; the 37 year old baker, father of 6 from Arraba, Jenin, has long become a living symbol of steadfastness, resistance and patience, for he is the face of Palestinian dignity and the igniter of the “battle of empty stomachs” against Israel’s administrative detention.
On hunger strike for the 35th day today, Sheikh Adnan’s health condition is deteriorating and he is in serious danger according to his family, which confirmed that lawyers and human rights activists were able to visit and talk to him lately in Sarafand hospital “Asaf HaRofe”, where he is held hand and leg cuffed to the hospital bed, surrounded by three guards from the Israeli prison forces. They confirmed that he is completely aware of those around him, although it was clear his health was deteriorating and he suffered from a sharp loss in weight, decrease in heartbeat, vision difficulties, and could only move in a wheelchair. Sheikh Adnan told them that he was forcibly moved from Ramleh prison “clinic” to Sarfand hospital on Thursday 04.06.2015, as the Israel Prison Service claimed that according to their rules, a prisoner on hunger strike for over 28 days, not taking salt or vitamins or medical tests, will be treated as someone in critical condition requiring transfer for immediate medical care. Sheikh Adnan added that he only drinks water without salt, sugar or any vitamins and still refuses to undergo any medical tests.
This is not Sheikh Adnan’s first hunger strike. In 2012, his 66-day hunger strike in an Israeli prison against his administrative detention, which at the time forced the occupation to determine the ceiling for his administrative detention and eventually release him, inspired hundreds of Palestinian prisoners to go on hunger strikes and join other prisoner protest actions against administrative detention and holding detainees without charge. His elderly mother recalled: “Khader is stubborn and derives his stubbornness from his belief in his cause, and we are with him and will not fail him.” Sheikh Adnan, who holds a degree in Economic Mathematics from Birzeit University, but decided to open a bakery to earn his livelihood in order to be free and independent, was detained countless times by both the Israeli occupation forces, and mostly held in administrative detention, and by the PA “security forces”. His six children; Ma’ali (6 years old), Bisan (5 years old), Abdel Rahman (3 years old) and the three twins Hamza, Ali and Muhammad, were all born while Sheikh Adnan was in Zionist captivity. During his captivity, Sheikh Adnan went on countless hunger strikes to protest his detention and demand his freedom. Sheikh Adnan’s experience with hunger strikes goes back to 2000, when he went on hunger strike in PA prisons, after he was detained for eight days on charges of inciting throwing stones at the French then-Prime Minister Lionel Jospin when he visited Birzeit University. His current detention started on 08.07.2014 (this being his tenth arrest), when Sheikh Adnan was kidnapped by the Israeli occupation forces at a military checkpoint at the entrance to his village. He received an administrative detention order of 6 months, which was renewed more than once. He was supposed to be released several months ago, whereby on 12.11.2014, Israeli Salem court ordered his immediate release, but the Israeli public prosecutor objected to the order under the pretext of non-completion of administrative detention. Consequently, the court order was amended, and Sheikh Adnan’s administrative detention was renewed. On 07.01.2015, and following the renewal of his detention for the second time, Sheikh Adnan went on a one-week hunger strike in a warning message to the prison authority, which, in turn confirmed his the detention for four months, held him in solitary confinement in Hadarim prison and prevented him from meeting with his lawyer as a punitive measure. Again, on 05.05.2015, his administrative detention was renewed for the third time, so Sheikh Adnan started his on-going open-ended hunger strike under the motto: “My soul will redeem you, oh mother” to protest the renewal of his administrative detention. The Israeli prison authority responded by transferring him to solitary confinement. It is noteworthy to mention that Sheikh Adnan announced his boycott of Israeli courts because of the renewal of his administrative detention order and the so-called secret files, and refused to be represented either by his lawyer or any lawyers from the Prisoners Committee or human rights organizations. This time is not the first in which Sheikh Adnan boycotts occupation courts, as he had already done at the beginning of his current detention, whereby the court confirmed the renewal of his administrative detention order for six months without his presence or that of his lawyer. The campaign by administrative detainees to boycott the Ofer occupation court is not an individual decision; Sheikh Adnan’s decision was preceded by decisions of at least eight other administrative detainees; Mujahid Shweiki, Ayman Tbeish, Khalil Awawdeh, Ra’ed ‘Amleh, Munther Abu ‘Atwan, Akram Fseisi, Ahmad ‘Amayreh and Ghassan Abu ‘Adi.
Within the dark dungeons of the Zionist entity, Palestinian prisoners and detainees continue the struggle; a daily struggle against their inhumane treatment, torture, humiliation, harassment, a daily struggle against over-crowded, damped and strangled cells, medical negligence and isolation. They fight for their legitimate rights; they fight daily for their right to food, drink, family visitations, legal representation, and medical treatment. One form of resisting the captivity and struggling for their freedom from within the dungeons is hunger strikes. Through hunger strikes, Palestinian prisoners defy the jailors, show they refuse to submit, refuse to surrender. While some hunger strikes are open-ended and last until the prisoners’ demands are met, others are one-day hunger strikes to protest a certain policy or show solidarity with other political prisoners. Also, there are general hunger strikes, in which all prisoners in all Israeli jails take part, and partial hunger strikes in which Palestinian prisoners in a particular Israeli prison declare a hunger strike to protest ill-treatment at that particular prison. Through his hunger-strike, Sheikh Khader Adnan is protesting against the renewal of his detention order and to demand an end to the policy of administrative detention. He is starving not only for his freedom, but for the freedom of around 500 Palestinians held captive by the Zionist entity without trial or charge. He is starving for the freedom of all Palestinians held captive in Zionist dungeons, and for the freedom of every one of us, held captive by the Zionist military occupation and colonialism. The Israeli occupation resorts to administrative detention and so-called secret files, prepared by the Israeli intelligence, when the prosecution is unable to prove the charge on the detainee. Administrative detention is a procedure that allows the Israeli military to hold prisoners indefinitely on secret evidence without charging them or allowing them to stand trial. Israeli prison authorities use administrative detention as prolonged detention, and in some cases Palestinian detainees are held captive without charge or trial for 5 or even 10 years.
Since 1967, the Zionist entity held more than 850,000 Palestinian captive, including thousands of Palestinians held in administrative detention, for periods ranging from months to years, including 2000 administrative detainees during the First Intifada, and around 23,000 administrative detention orders were issued since 2000. According to a report of the Prisoners Affairs Committee, currently there are over 6000 Palestinians still held captive in 22 Israeli jails and detention centers, including 200 children, 25 women, and more than 1600 prisoners suffering from various diseases, and 30 prisoners detained since before the Oslo agreement. Additionally, at least 500 Palestinians are held in administrative detention in several Israeli prisons, including Ofer, Megiddo and Al-Naqab. These detainees are held without charge or trial, and often their detention is extended in the final minutes of their captivity, which increases their suffering and that of their families. Among the 500 administrative detainees, there are 12 MPs including the Speaker of the Palestinian Parliament. During the first four months of 2015, 401 administrative detention orders were issued, mostly as renewals; distributed as follows: 109 orders in January, 89 orders in February, 121 orders in March, and 82 orders in April 2015. This constitute an increase of more than 600% compared to the same period last year, in which administrative detention orders amounted to 65 decision only, clearly indicating a increase in the number of Palestinians held captive by the Zionist entity. Of the 401 orders, 92 administrative decision orders were new orders, 309 were renewals for different periods, constituting up to the 6th renewal for some prisoners, and ranging from two to six months. Hebron has the largest share of these orders, amounting to 175. Additionally, in May 2015, 92 administrative detention orders were issued by the Israeli occupation authorities in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem. Consequently, the number of administrative decision orders issued since the beginning of 2015 is 493 orders.
Some of the administrative detention orders are new orders, others are renewals, whereby the administrative detention is renewed for some prisoners for different periods, ranging from two to six months. This is done in order to keep the detainees in Israeli captivity as long as possible, especially political and community activists and MPs, such as Sheikh Khader Adnan, whose administrative detention was renewed for the third time for four months, MP Mohammed Al-Natsheh, renewed for the fourth time for 4 months, and MP Nayef Rjoub, renewed for the fifth time for 4 months. Mahmoud Shalatweh, 32 years old from ‘Aboud in Ramallah, who was the longest serving administrative detainee until his release in mid May 2015, was detained on 01.05.2012 and spent three years in a row in administrative detention, as it was renewed over ten times. In an interview with “Ahrar Wulidna” published on 18.05.2015, Shalatweh stressed that the on-going escalation in the administrative detention file is tantamount to a psychological, moral, and political on-going war on the prisoners’, who are victims of Zionist intelligence reports. He also demanded popular, official and legal support for individual strikers and for administrative detainees in general. He added that administrative detainees live a state of wait, anxiety and the fear of the possibility of renewal of their detention. Shalatweh, who spent more than nine and a half years in Zionist captivity, including as administrative detainee, added: “What is happening is arbitrary arrest that is not based on any law in the world… Four release orders were issued for me by the occupation courts but the occupation prison denied them and refused to comply with them…. since the date of my detention on 01.05.2012 until the date of my release a few days ago, I lived through the probability of being released at any moment and this affected me.” On 06.06.2015, administrative detainee Ibrahim Abdullah Al-‘Ruj, 30 years old from Al-’Ruj village in Bethlehem, was finally released after being administratively detained since 12.08.2012, whereby his administrative detention order was renewed 9 times. He is a former prisoner who spent eight years in Israeli jails, and his family was often threatened by the Israeli occupation forces because of its participation in the solidarity actions with administrative detainees on hunger strike. Al-‘Ruj is student at the Palestine Polytechnic University, but his repeated arrests prevented him from finishing his university education.
During the last month, a number of administrative detention orders were renewed for up to the sixth time in a row:
– On 05.05.2015, it was reported that the occupation military courts renewed the administrative detention of Zaid Ismail Abu Fannar, 28 years old from Yatta – Hebron, for a period of 4 months for the fifth time in a row. Abu Fannar was detained on 12.15.2013, and received an administrative detention order for four months, to be renewed another 4 consecutive times. Abu Fannar participated in the open-ended hunger strike waged by administrative detainees in 2014, which lasted for 62 consecutive days. He was taken to Ramle prison “clinic” at the time because of the decline in his health as a result of the strike. It is worth noting that Abu Fannar was detained 4 times, 3 of which were administrative detentions, and is now held captive in Al-Naqab prison. Abu Fannar was detained by both; the Israeli occupation forces and the PA “security forces” in the West Bank.
– On 10.05.2015, Palestinian administrative detainee Ayman Ali Tbeish, 34 years old from Dura – Hebron, entered his second year of consecutive administrative detention, which was renewed six times in a row. Tbeish was kidnapped by Israeli occupation forces on 09.05.2013, and held in administrative detention in Ofer prison. When his detention was renewed a second time, Tbeish started an open-ended hunger strike that lasted 105 days. He suspended the hunger strike after an agreement between his lawyer Jawad Boulos and the Israeli public prosecutors, stating that he is to be released on 09.01.2014. The Israeli occupation authority did not comply with the agreement, and renewed his administrative detention yet another time. In response, Tbeish went again on hunger strike, this time lasting 123 days, and again the occupation authority promised to end his detention and to release him on 05.01.2015, but for a second time, Israel did not respect the agreement and renewed his detention for the fifth time for a period of 3 months, and with the promise to release him after its completion, but instead renewed his administrative for a sixth time in a row several days before the date of his release. Tbeish suffers from health problems, due to the long periods of the hunger strikes he waged. A university student, he was not able to continue his education because of his repeated detention, reaching up to four times, and totaling more than 10 years in Israeli captivity, most of which in administrative detention. Recently, Tbeish refused to attend the court session which confirmed the administrative detention, after he decided to boycott Israeli courts, and he refuses to recognize them and to appear before them, in protest against the lack of the occupation’s commitment to the agreements signed between his lawyer and the prison administration following two lengthy hunger strikes that lasted a total of 228 days.
– On 23.05.2015, the occupation authorities renewed the administrative detention of Hashim Ali Abu Turki, 30 years old from Hebron for four months for the fifth time in a row. He was detained on 01.06.2014, and spent 17 months in Israeli captivity without charge. Abu Turki, who spent seven years in Israeli jails at intervals, all of which were in administrative detention, participated in April 2014 in the hunger strike, that lasted 62 days, against the renewal of administrative detention orders, which led to deterioration in his health.
– On 02.06.2015, Israeli occupation courts renewed the administrative detention of Ja’far Ibrahim Izz al-Din, 43 year old from Arraba in Jenin, for four months for the fourth time in a row. He was arrested in mid-June 2014, and held in administrative detention without charge. A month earlier, Izz al-Din was transferred from Al-Naqab prison to the hospital for surgery because of urinary problems and intestinal bleeding. Also, in January 2015, Israeli occupation forces raided the house of Izz al-Din in a brutal manner, and questioned his wife and sons. It is noteworthy that Izz al-Din went on hunger strike for over 3 consecutive months in 2013, in protest against the renewal of his administrative detention order more than once.
– On 04.06.2015, Israeli occupation courts renewed the administrative detention of detainee Ismail ‘Okal, 20 years old from Nablus for the fourth time in a row. ‘Okal, kidnapped on 11.02.2014, is the youngest administrative detainee, and suffers from weak eye-sight. He was previously kidnapped twice by the Israeli occupation forces, and sent 20 months and 18 months respectively.
On 07.06.2015, it was reported that Israeli occupation authorities renewed the administrative detention of detainee Azzam Abdel Rahim Al-Shobaki, 53 years old from Hebron, for a period of 3 months for the sixth time in a row. Al-Shobaki was kidnapped by Israeli occupation forces on 15.01.2014 together with his brother Usama, and both were issued administrative detention orders. Al-Shobaki, who suffers from various health problems, such as heart problems and high blood, is subjected to medical negligence in Israeli jails and does not receive proper treatment for his condition. He spent over 18 years in Zionist captivity and was one of the Palestinians Israel deported to South Lebanon. Because of his continuously renewed administrative detention, Al-Shobaki was not able to attend the wedding of his daughter last March. From Ofer prison, he sent his daughter the following letter:
“Congratulations carried by the sun rays, which break the laws of space and time and reach you Ala
My daughter Ala’
The distance between you and me, a sea of tears, mountains and restrictions, shackles and bars and barbed wires, walls, prisons, interrogation cells and deportation … and the witness to the flames of these lines I am writing is your birth, and your nearing wedding… holding you and congratulating you on this day of joy … these ravens that caw in the sky of my homeland, that have usurped my land and all that is holy to me, that have brought a toxic wind that is gathered from all corners of the earth to settle in my homeland … and to be with you, to present to you a flower, a rose, a kiss, is in their conventions terror and weapons of mass destruction….
But killing children, women and elderly, demolishing houses on their inhabitants, destruction of land, uprooting of trees, keep the seedling away from her mother and keeping the flower away from her sister is civilization and humanity…
From the orchards of these lines, I send you the most beautiful and fresh flower bouquets, flying over their machine guns that are anti-love, nature and beauty…
My precious one, my love and the apple of my eye…
Wear your beautiful white dress, remove your sad dress, and if longing makes you feel the urge to cry, let them be tears of joy, and how beautiful and precious these drops are… and your tears as they, as they wet these words, will overflow and water all the roots, until beautiful carnations grow… for our days will never wither, but will break through the rocks and create a green spring.
And I swear… that our house will be filled with joy despite the wounds… and this sad season will not continue in my country… and the black crows will leave, but not as they came, but with broken wings and plucked feathers….
From my captivity, and the walls of my prison, I send you and your mother a thousand greetings… for she has raised you well and despite all the suffering and the pain she is the driving force pushing for good and instill her revolution in you, so the blood of pride and dignity may run in your veins…. For she is our home and our nation, and her wounds and pains are a living soul that runs in every letter I write here…. without her, all words would have been lost, and would have been missing and powerless…
A loving letter from the caves of darkness that tamed the moon to brighten the place…
Azzam Al-Shobaki – Hebron
Hunger strike is a protest action used not only by administrative detainees. On 17.05.2015, prisoner Hamzeh Salameh Abu Sawaween, 22 years old from Deir al-Balah in the Gaza Strip started an open-ended hunger strike to demand improved detention conditions, to be allowed to make a phone call to his family and to be allowed family visits. Three days later, Abu Sawaween suspended the strike following a promise he received from the Israeli Prison Service and the Israeli Intelligence Service agreeing to his demands; however and as usual, the occupation authority did not comply with the made agreement. On 27.05.2015, Abu Sawaween resumed his hunger strike, and as a result was held in solitary isolation cells in Eshel prison for more than three months in poor conditions and inhumane treatment. On 07.06.2015, it was reported that the Israeli prison authorities transferred Abu Sawaween from Eshel to Hedarim prison, and informed him of reviewing the possibility of allowing him a phone call with his family. Abu Sawaween was arrested on 16.06.2013 and was sentenced to 13 years in prison. Prisoner Saddam Awad from Beit Ummar is also on hunger strike since 25.05.2015, in solidarity with Sheikh Khader Adnan. Additionally, on 31.05.2015, it was reported that prisoner Abdullah Barghouthi, 42 years old from Beit Rima – Ramallah, started an open-ended hunger strike to protest his isolation. The Ramon prison management transferred Barghouthi to solitary confinement cells as a punitive measure against him after he gave a phone interview with a radio station in Gaza a day earlier. Barghouthi is serving 66 life sentences. Also, it is important to note that Palestinian political prisoner Islam Hamid, held captive in PA prisons, has been on hunger strike since 24.03.2015 to protest the decision of Palestinian “intelligence” to transfer him from Jericho central prison to Junaid prison in Nablus as a punitive measure, in addition to denying him all the privileges he achieved during his previous hunger strikes. According to Hamid’s family, he suffers from bad health conditions after more than 60 days of hunger strike. Hamid’s wife said that her husband has been in PA prison since 2009, and obtained a decision from the Supreme Court to be released, but the military court rejected the court decision and sentenced him in 2010 to three years imprisonment on charges of “disturbing the relations with Israel”. After he completed his sentence, the PA refused to release him.
Here it is worth mentioning that, according to the Palestine Center for Prisoners Studies, the recent declaration by Israeli terrorist Yaakov Teitel to go on a hunger strike exposes the racist face of the occupation in dealing discriminately between Palestinian and Israeli prisoners, although there is no comparison between a Palestinian freedom fighting and a Zionist terrorist committing terror crimes. Teitel is imprisoned for killing two Palestinians, attempted murder of two others, several attempts to blow up Israeli occupation police cars in occupied Jerusalem. He was sentenced to life sentences and 30 years. Teitel announced his intention to start a hunger strike to protest the reduction in the duration of his visit from 60 to 30 minutes, making it once every two weeks instead of once every week. Thus, despite being convicted of murder, attempted murder, and terror attacks, he was receiving a 60-minute visit every week, during which he sat freely with his family, face to face and not through a barrier. At the same time, Palestinian political prisoners and detainees are only allowed 30-minute family visit once every two months, and through glass barrier denying the prisoners to hear the voice of their loved ones. Other Palestinian prisoners are deprived of family visits for months or even years, or visits are cancelled in the last minute. Additionally, family members are subjected to all sorts of humiliation and insults during visitation
In his last letter to his family, Sheikh Khader Adnan says: “There is no room for defeatists who want to cripple every national action and silence the people under the pretext that the political stage is not suitable.” Sheikh Khader Adnan is on his 35th day of hunger strike to protest administrative detention. He is on hunger strike to demand the freedom of all Palestinian administrative detainees; he is on hunger strike for our freedom and our dignity. Sheikh Khader Adnan was active in all prisoners’ solidarity actions, he was present wherever they was an action, he visited families of Palestinian prisoners and detainees, participated in marches and stands for their support… he was there for everyone; from Arraba he marched to Nablus, he marched to Ramallah, he marched to Hebron, he marched to every solidarity tent and to every protest. In February 2013, when Sheikh Khader Adnan went on a 12-day hunger strike in front of the International Red Cross headquarters in Al-Bireh, in support of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails, he received public support from Palestinians everywhere, including former prisoners, students, activists, and was even joined in hunger strike by a number of activists. Sheikh Khader Adnan is on his 35th day of hunger strike, he defies jails and jailors, he defies hunger and thirst, he defies pain and bodily torture because he believes in his people, he believes in us, and he puts his life in our hands. He knows that we will not betray him, like he never betrayed us… he knows that we will not betray Palestinian prisoners, those fighting for us, those sacrificing their freedom so we may be free.
Today, on his 35th day of open-ended hunger strike, Sheikh Khader Adnan did not forget us. While we go on with our daily lives; our work, our studies, our family visits, he remembers us, and talks to us whenever he can. Today, and from his hospital bed, Sheikh Khader Adnan sent a letter of solidarity and encouragement to Palestinian tawjihi students: “From my cell in Sarafand Hospital, and from the bed of torment where I lie hand and leg cuffed since nearly a week, and where three IPS criminals alternate in guarding me… and in spite of all these ordeals and sufferings, I sincerely pray to God asking Him for success in your studies and your future…. For our hope in you is great, oh future generation, that through your knowledge, you will be the servants of your homeland and its holy places, and the nucleus of the next generation of liberation, God willing…. And don’t forget your little brother Khader from your prayers for near victory, God willing.” Today, on his 35th day of open-ended hunger strike, public support for Sheikh Adnan remains minimal and shy, to our shame and disgrace. Sheikh Adnan’s family members, who live his hunger and thirst every minute of the day, who live his pain and suffering every minute of the day, need our support, need our solidarity every minute of the day, they need to know that Sheikh Adnan is our brother, our son, our father, our comrade, they need to know that they are not alone. Sheikh Khader Adnan, starving for our freedom, needs to know that he is not alone, that his pain is ours, that his hunger is ours, that his thirst is ours, that his suffering is ours, that his captivity is ours, and that his freedom is ours. Sheikh Adnan’s wife Randa told reporters: “He told me on my last visit to him about his intention to start an open hunger strike, from which he will either emerge victorious carried on the shoulders or a martyr carried on the shoulders too”.
Sheikh Khader Adnan represents our dignity, he believes in us, in every single one of us, and he counts on us, on every single one of… as he revolts against his jailors behind bars, let’s stand up as one for him, so he may emerge victorious carried on the shoulders.