The History of the Palestinian Captive Movement Hunger Strike and the Story of Khader Adnan

20 February 2012

By Younes Arar, co-coordinator of Beit Ommar Popular Committee

Open hunger strike or what is known as “The Battle of empty Intestines”, is the detainee’s refrain from eating all varieties and forms of food in the reach of the prisoners with the exception of water and a pinch of salt, a step that is rarely used by the prisoners; since this move is considered the most dangerous and hardest step used by detainees because of its serious- physical and psychological risks – for prisoners and in some cases, it led to the martyrdom of a number of them starting with the martyr Abdel Qader Abu Elfahm, who died in 11/7/1970, during the hunger strike of Ashkelon prison, the martyr Rasem Abu Elhalawah and Rasem Ali Jaafari, who were martyred on 24/7/1980 during the hunger strike of Nafha prison, the martyr Mahmoud Fritkh who was martyred during the hunger strike of Junaid prison in 1984, and the martyr Hussein Nemr Obaidat who was martyred in 14/10/1992 during the hunger strike of Ashkelon prison.

Usually Palestinian prisoners resort to such a move only after depleting all other struggle steps, and after the Israeli occupation authorities fail to respond to their demands through open dialogue between the struggle committee that represent detainees and the Israeli authorities. The prisoners consider the open hunger strike, a means to achieve the goal, not a goal by itself, It is also more methods of struggle, and is considered the most important, in terms of effectiveness and impact on the administration of the prison, the Israeli authorities and public opinion to achieve their humanitarian demands, as it remains first and foremost a battle of will and determination.

The first Palestinian hunger strike experience in the Israeli jails was in Nablus prison in early 1968, where the detainees went on hunger strike that lasted for three days; to protest against the Israeli occupation policy of beatings and humiliation the prisoners suffered from at the hands of Israeli soldiers, and to demand better human living conditions. And then hunger strikes rolled after that.

How does the hunger strike affect the human body?

• In the first three days the body begins to consume the “glucose” found in the blood completely, since glucose is the main source of energy for most creatures, including humans.
• After the liver starts to burn the fat in the body to produce energy for the various organs of the body, and in this phase signs of weakness, leanness and weight loss will appear on the hunger striker body clearly day by day.
• After three weeks, the hunger striker enters the stage of the so-called “starvation status” where the body begins, similar to “burn” the muscle cells and internal organs in the body for energy, causing real damage to these organs, especially that such a process produces toxic and harmful chemicals .. And then begins to lose bone marrow… And it is the most serious stage and the most threat to the life of hunger striker.
• In case the strike exceeds 50 days, the life of the hunger striker will be in real danger and risk increases by increasing the number of days that the strike continues, which depends first on the person’s health, and the nature of drinks they feed during the strike.

And according to the history of hunger strikes, there were already cases of death of the hunger strikers after 50 to 72 days, among them the case of the political prisoner ” Willmar Villar” less than a month in Cuba after only 50 days on hunger strike.
The following are the most prominent hunger strikes waged by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails:
1 – Ramle prison hunger strike in 18/2/1969, it lasted for (11) days.
2 – The Kfar Yona prison hunger strike in 18/2/1969. The strike lasted eight days, and coincided with the strike of Ramle.
3 – The Palestinian women prisoners’ hunger strike in Tirza prison in 28/4/1970, it lasted for nine days.
4 – The Ashkelon prison hunger strike in 5/7/1970. The strike lasted for seven days.
5 – The Ashkelon prison hunger strike in 13/9/1973 until 7/10/1973.
6 – An open hunger strike in 11/12/1976, which started from the Ashkelon prison; to improve the living conditions of the prisoners and lasted for (45) days.
7 – An open hunger strike in 24/2/1977, it lasted for (20) days in Ashkelon prison. It was an extension to the previous strike.
8 – Nafha prison hunger strike in 14/7/1980, and lasted for (32) days.
9 – Junaid prison hunger strike in September 1984, it lasted for (13) days.
10 – Junaid prison hunger strike in 25/3/1987, it was attended by more than (3000) Palestinian prisoners from various prisons, and lasted for (20) days. It was one of the initial contributions to the outbreak of the first intifada.
11 – Nafha prison hunger strike in 23/6/1991,and lasted for (17) days.
12 – The hunger strike of 27/9/1992, which included most of the prisons, and was attended by seven thousands prisoner, it lasted for (15) days. The prisons joined the strike as follows: (Junaid, Ashkelon, Nafha, Be’er Sheva and Nablus in 27/9, Jenin prison 29/9, Hebron prison 30/9, Ramallah prison and Telmond in 1/10, the isolation prison of Ramle in 5/10, Gaza Central Prison 10/10, while Shatta, Megiddo, Negev, and Fara participated just in solidarity with the striking prisons.
13 – The strike of 21/6/1994, which included most of the prisons, when prisoners went on hunger strike; following the signing of the Cairo Agreement (Gaza – Jericho); to protest against the mechanism carried out to release five thousand Palestinian prisoners as agreed, and it lasted for three days.
14 – The prisoners’ hunger strike in 18/6/1995 under the slogan (the release of all prisoners without exception). This strike came to move their political cause before the Taba negotiations, and lasted for (18) days.
15 – The prisoners fought indefinite hunger strike in 5/12/1998; after the release of (150) criminal prisoner instead of political prisoners, in a deal which included the release of (750) prisoners according to the Wye River Agreement and at the eve of the U.S. President Bill Clinton visit to the region.
16 – The prisoners entered the indefinite hunger strike in 1/5/2000; to protest against the policy of isolation, restrictions and the humiliating conditions to the prisoners’ families during visits imposed by the Israeli Jails Administration.

Khader Adnan’s open hunger strike
Name: KHADER ADNAN MOHAMMAD MUSA
Date of Birth: 24 March 1978
Place of residence: Arraba, Jenin
Marital status: Married with two daughters. His wife is five months pregnant with a third child.
Occupation: Baker and Master’s student in Economics at Birzeit University
Date of arrest: 17 December 2011
Place of detention: Ramleh prison hospital
Expected end of current detention order: 8 May 2012
Reason for this hunger strike: On 16 February 2012, Khader Adnan entered his 62nd day of hunger strike in protest of his administrative detention and the ill-treatment he suffered at the hands of the Israeli Prison Service. He is at grave risk of death and is refusing treatment until he is released.

History of Khader Adnan Arrests:

1. 1999, he was arrested for 4 months in administrative detention.
2. 200 – 2001, one year.
3. 2002, one year in administrative detention.
4. 2004, 6 months in the administrative detention, and he went on hunger strike for 25 days Kfar Youna prison.
5. 2008, 6 months in administrative detention.

His latest arrest:
Khader was arrested on 17 December 2011, when Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) raided his home outside Jenin at 3:30 am. Before entering his house, soldiers used the driver that takes Khader’s father to the vegetable market, Mohammad Mustafa, as a human shield by forcing him to knock on the door of the house and call out Khader’s name while blindfolded. A huge force of soldiers then entered the house shouting. Recognizing Khader immediately, they grabbed him violently in front of his two young daughters and ailing mother.

The soldiers blindfolded him and tied his hands behind his back using plastic shackles before leading him out of his house and taking him to a military jeep. Khader was then thrown on his back and the soldiers began slapping him in the face and kicking his legs. They kept him lying on his back until they reached Dutan settlement, beating him on the head throughout the 10-minute drive. When they reached the settlement, Khader was pushed aggressively out of the jeep. Because of the blindfold, Khader did not see the wall right in front of him and smashed into it, causing injuries to his face.

How to support Khader Adnan and other prisoners in this Struggle?

The battle being fought by resistor prisoner Khader Adnan, is a battle of a special type that requires a quality and creative support and solidarity, and so it is not the fate of the prisoner struggling Khader Adnan and others of our leaders and our prisoners in Israeli prisons, and in order to make Khader able to avoid the same fate as “Bobby Sands” and his comrades, we must prepare and provide for this battle all the factors of victory that would force the occupation government to respond to the fair demands of our prisoners, but if the Israeli prison administration do not respond and yield to these demands, then there is no other way rather than the need to pay the price “martyrs”, the Irish way, martyrs, to afford our prisoners the chance to live in the Israeli occupation prisons with self-esteem and dignity, and close the unilateral isolation sections in which our prisoners life has become at serious and real risk.
The occupation government ministers describes the life of humiliation and indignity which our prisoners are going through in the Israeli prisons, isolation sections and cells as a five-star hotels life, this means that this government is determined to crush, break and humiliate our prisoners, and it will not respond to the fair demands of the struggling prisoner Khader Adnan and other prisoners of our people, unless it feels that there is serious support and effective and true back up and solidarity to him in his battle, which is the battle of all the Palestinian prisoners a battle that exposes and the occupation government and the Israeli prisons administration, a battle that requires us to come together and in harmony, the efforts of both the official and popular, a battle that is managed locally, regionally and internationally. A battle of special type, requires a special effort, any defeat in this battle will leave its impact and implications at the Palestinian prisoners for many years to come, including increasing the predominance of the Israeli occupation Prisons Administration towards our prisoners, and will deepen the prisoners suffering inside these stone bags.

Struggling prisoner Khader Adnan and the other prisoners have no choice but to fight this battle, either life with dignity and pride and or martyrdom for the right, homeland and a decent life, and we believe that our prisoners have the will, readiness and high morale to fight this decisive battle in the history of the Palestinian captive movement, and perhaps dating to a new stage in the life Movement captive Palestinian.

In order to enable Adnan together with our captive movement achieve decisive victory in this battle, then we have to supply them with all legitimate struggle forms and support including demonstrations, sit-ins, marches, seminars, lectures and the recruitment of all media to serve this battle, and to put the local, Arab and international institutions in the picture of our captive movement situation, the nature of their demands and causes that called on them to engage in this battle. This battle in which Khader Adnan is its spearhead, must activate all Palestinian popular, official, Arab, and International institutions to support this battle, including the internationalization of this battle, and to consider what is being practiced against our prisoners a war crime requires a warrant to bring the leaders of the Israeil Government of and the officers of its prisons administration to the international courts to try them as war criminals.