Palestinian hunger striker appeals to Israel's top court

AFP , Tuesday 21 Feb 2012

Palestine's record hunger striker to make appeal against illegal detention to Israel's Supreme Court amid solidarity strike in Ramallah

A foreign peace activist holds a placard depicting jailed Islamic Jihad leader Khader Adnan during a protest in his support in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Monday, (Photo: Reuters).

A Palestinian prisoner who is close to death after being on hunger strike for 66 days, was on Tuesday to make a desperate appeal to Israel's highest court against his detention without charge.

Khader Adnan, who was arrested by the army on 17 December and began refusing food a day later, has now spent more than nine weeks on hunger strike in protest at both his detention without trial and alleged abuse by interrogators.

Israel has not made public any charges against him, but a military court in January ordered that he be held under a four-month administrative detention order.

His case has thrown a spotlight on Israel's use of administrative detention, an antiquated military procedure which allows suspects to be held without charge for renewable periods of up to six months.

It has also drawn international attention, with rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch urging Israel to either charge him or release him.

The United Nations and European Union have also expressed concern about the case and called on Israel to make every effort to preserve Adnan's health.

Adnan has already unsuccessfully appealed against his detention without charge before a military judge, in an unusual session held in a hospital in northern Israel.

After the appeal was rejected, his lawyer Jawad Bulus sought a hearing before Israel's Supreme Court.

The session was scheduled for Thursday, but moved the session up after an urgent appeal by Bulus late on Monday, citing his client's fragile state of health.

Doctors from Physicians for Human Rights-Israel who have met with Adnan have warned that his health was failing and that he faced "immediate danger of death" if he continued to refuse food.

Rights groups have also condemned the conditions in which Adnan is being held at Ziv hospital in the northern town of Safed, where he is shackled to the bed by chains on both legs and on one arm.

His case has sparked demonstrations across the Palestinian territories, with thousands of people taking part in protests on Tuesday in the West Bank cities of Nablus, Jenin, Hebron and Ramallah. A protest was also scheduled in Gaza City.

Dozens of shops in Ramallah shut down as part of a general strike in solidarity with Adnan, and Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails were also on hunger strike in support of the detainee.

Palestinian officials have warned that Adnan's death in custody could spark a violent backlash, and a spokeswoman for the Israel Prisons Service said they were aware of the "implications" of such a development.

On Monday, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said he had sent a message to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and other top diplomats urging them to put pressure on Israel over the case.

"I asked them all to intervene in Adnan's case. They must apply pressure on Israel to release him," he told AFP.

But on Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office went on the offensive, with a spokesman describing Adnan as "a dangerous terrorist" despite the fact he has yet to be charged with any security offences.

"This man was involved in planning terrorist activities against Israel," Ofir Gendelman told AFP.

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