Israel has a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad policy called “administrative detention” which allows the military to pick up whomever the heck it pleases and throw them into jail without charge, indefinitely (including Jews, and some have been arrested in this fashion). Technically, the cases come before a judge for review on a rolling basis, every four months if I’m not mistaken, but in practice, all that happens is that these cases get endlessly rolled over.
Which is to say: In addition to having a horrible, terrible, no good very bad system of military law that applies to, and only to, the Palestinians that Israel arrests for whatever reason (Israeli settlers are, of course, judged according to Israeli law) — Israel also has this system by which it can grab you for no reason and hold you for however long it likes, a system upon which it has been relying more and more. Currently more than 300 Palestinians are being held under administrative detention by Israel, one of whom is a
Gazan man from the West Bank named Khader Adnan.
Adnan’s hunger strike is in protest at his detention without charge or being told of any evidence against him, and over his claims of abuse and degrading treatment during arrest and interrogation. This is his ninth period of detention, according to reports. In the past he has acted as a spokesman for the militant group Islamic Jihad.
Other reports have described Adnan as everything from “associated with” Islamic Jihad to “a leader” in Islamic Jihad, but the point is: This 33 year old husband and father is involved, possibly deeply involved, with a terrorist organization slightly to the extreme side of Hamas.
When suicide bombings were all the rage, that’s what Islamic Jihad did. When Israel’s draconian tactics made that all but impossible to achieve, Islamic Jihad and Hamas switched over to firing rockets into Israel’s south. On occasion, both groups have launched or agreed to ceasefires, but to the extent that one is ready to recognize the reality of the State of Israel and limp toward a modus vivendi, that one is Hamas, not Islamic Jihad (which doesn’t have nearly as big a following).
Over the past 62 days, Khader Adnan has been protesting his treatment and detention with a hunger strike. Last I saw, he is also literally shackled to his bed. This past Monday, Israel’s military court rejected his appeal and extended his administrative detention, and so far, there is nothing to suggest that they’re going to budge. A doctor with the Israeli branch of Physicians for Human Rights examined him on Tuesday and said that Adnan is near death, describing in this press release the way that starvation shuts the body down after about the 58-day mark.
I don’t know Khader Adnan, but I feel comfortable in saying that I don’t like him. I certainly don’t like his movement, which is responsible for many horrible civilian deaths. But here’s the crazy thing: That still doesn’t make it okay to abuse him and let him die.
Administrative detention is wrong. Torture is wrong. The occupation is wrong. Israel’s policies vis-a-vis the Palestinian people have been nothing but wrong from the very start of the occupation (and a good deal before) and bringing all that wrong-ness to bear on a man because we don’t like his opinions and political movment just ups the wrong-ness. This is wrong.
But beyond even that, Israel is taking a man who has dedicated himself to the destruction of the state via the workings of an organization that comes in at about #3 on Palestinian popularity polls, and by refusing to act according to the ethical demands of the most basic notions of justice and human rights, is turning him into a martyr, and obscuring his movement’s violent nature while also giving it a tremendous public opinion boost. People across the globe are now openly lionizing this man as a man of peace, and I just saw one person ask the question “Where are the Israelis like Khader?” — to which I wanted, very badly, to say: They’re the ones attacking Palestinians in their fields.
I don’t need to like, trust, or respect a man to know that my country has to treat him within the bounds of international law and respect his human and civil rights. Khader Adnan should be freed immediately, he and his family compensated, and the Israeli government should sue for peace.
But instead, he’s going to die a terrible (and courageous) death, and Israel and Palestine are going to explode.
Well done, Israel. Well done.