Khader Adnan has now been on hunger strike for over sixty days. Reports from doctors and those close to his family say he is on the brink of death. Bizarrely he still remains shackled to a bed in an Israeli detention centre, with the limited visits he does have held surrounded by the IDF’s finest armed with assault rifles. Khader Adnan, like so many others (including hundreds of children), is under arbitrary detention. Cutting through the jargon this means he has been taken in the middle of the night by gunpoint and placed in prison, without charge and without facing any semblance of a judiciary. He has been beaten and tortured in order to attempt to extract information. One might think Khader Adnan was in Guantanamo Bay.
Whilst Khader’s hunger strike is beginning to catch the eye of some of the international media, the truth is that arbitrary detention has pretty much been IDF policy for as long as their existence. Children who throw stones face being placed in jails and interrogated, often without the knowledge of their families. This has been a news story for some time now but Western media outlets, silenced by national governments favouring Israel, have not reported a word; it must be said, however, that not much pressure is needed nowadays. Shamefully a lot of news outlets self censor.
Khader is no stranger to hunger strike as a tactic and has successfully won transfers and releases using it previously. What has projected his case into the public eye this time is a refusal on the side of the Israeli government to back down, and because of this there is a real chance that Khader will die, and a real chance the West Bank and Gaza will erupt as a result.
Khader’s case has drawn the support of veterans of the Irish Hunger Strike in the H Block and Armagh Jails. The parallels are certainly there. The war between the Republican movement and the British Government (headed at that time by Margaret Thatcher) led to arbitrary detention of hundreds of men and women in Long Kesh and other such facilities designed to detain individuals under the auspices of “security concerns”. The reason for this was to control and intimidate the Republican majority in the North, attempting to dissuade membership of resistance movements such as the INLA and IRA. The election of hunger strikers as MPs both in the Republic and the North shows how much British tactics failed to suppress the population; there was mass support for the cause of those who sacrificed themselves, increased by the intransigence of Thatcher and her government.
Much similarity can be drawn between this and Palestine today, dawn raids and random arrests at checkpoints and on the streets are intended to quell any popular resistance. Having managed to strangle the life out of the peace process, Israel is now seeking to strangle the life out of the very populace of Palestine; in short the creation of a system of apartheid, the extension of settlements, coupled with mass arrests, murders and deportations cannot be seen any other way. The mass support shown over Palestine for Khader Adnan has drawn comparisons to the most famous of the Irish Hunger Strikers – Bobby Sands.
Whilst Khader has replicated some of the popular support that the Irish Hunger Strikers garnered, he, unlike Sands, who was supported by pro-Nationalist politicians in the States, has not had any establishment support. The noticeable absence of Hamas or Fatah statements on the issue will not shock the Palestinians, who are gradually moving away from what are viewed as self-serving administrations. As the two sides grow ostensibly closer together with a unity deal, the population draws further away from them. At a press conference in Egypt this week that announced the next stage of the process, including a backroom deal to retain Mahmoud Abbas as President, not one mention was made of Adnan’s struggle.
Much like the self-immolations in the Arab world that triggered the ongoing revolutions and indeed much like the self sacrifice shown by the Irish Hunger Strikers, Khader Adnan has become the embodiment of a popular mood. Reports suggest other prisoners have now begun hunger strikes in solidarity. The plight of Khader Adnan is the plight of the Palestinian people in daily resisting the occupation, but more importantly it is a plight against inhumane treatment that is suffered throughout history by those who stand up against minority rule. We are all Khader Adnan, Bobby Sands and Mohamed Bouazizi.
What is needed is an expression of Western solidarity that puts pressure on governments to prevent the murder of Khader Adnan, because make no mistake, it is murder. Much like there was during the time of the Republican hunger strikes, there should be protests as a show of support for the cause and our shameful media should be forced into talking about it. Much like the USA and France did at the time of the hunger strikes in Ireland; those states that have recognised Palestine now need to stand shoulder to shoulder with its people.
If Khader Adnan dies it is not his fault; it is the crime of an illegal occupation by a Zionist menace that for too long has stalked the Middle East. The Palestinian people deserve their moment of victory over oppression; it is our job to do everything in our power to support it.
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