Palestine: Dying to Live

by Chris Knestrick

The day after Israeli authorities arrested him, Khader Adnan declared a hunger strike to protest Israel’s policy of administrative detention.  Israel had ordered him detained for four months but never charged him with a crime.  Sixty-six days later, he reached an agreement with Israel’s Justice Ministry and broke his hunger strike.  As people involved with the campaign to release Adnan told us, he was “dying to live.”

Ahmed is 23 years old and the father of three young sons – Abdul Karim, age four; Sewar, almost two; and 8-month-old Omar.  His experience with administrative detention began when he was 8 years old, during the First Intifada.  Since then he has been in and out of Israeli prisons.  After a 2008 arrest with no charge, Israel extended his detention five times totaling two years of mostly solitary confinement.

Under Israeli law, authorities may hold Palestinians in administrative detention for up to six months without charge.  They can renew this term indefinitely, deport Palestinians to Israel, and incarcerate them in Israeli prisons, despite the fact that the Geneva Conventions, which Israel has signed, say it is illegal to transport prisoners across international borders.  

The detainees have no access to lawyers and their cases do not come before a judge because they have not been accused of any crime.  Some detainees have never received a visit from relatives because Israeli authorities often deny the special permits required for family members to enter Israel.

According to Amnesty International, Adnan is “one of 309 Palestinians currently held in administrative detention, including one man held for over five years.” 

Thousands of Palestinians and internationals, including CPT, have called for the release of all individuals held in administrative detention.

In al-Khalil/Hebron, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) recently held a 24-hour vigil calling for an end to administrative detention and freedom for all those unjustly imprisoned.  Former detainees organized the PPS to support the 5,000 political prisoners currently held in Israel including those under administrative detention, each one dying to live.

Take action by signing Amnesty International’s Petition against administrative detention: http://goo.gl/Fb7K5.

Knestrick, from Ohio, USA, serves full time with CPT in Colombia and joined the Palestine team for three months.