RAMALLAH - A Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike for 55 days to protest against his detention without trial by Israel is refusing medical treatment and his life is in danger, a hospital spokeswoman said on Thursday.
Khader Adnan, 33, a member of the Islamic Jihad militant group, has been refusing to eat since mid-December, shortly after his arrest in the occupied West Bank, and has only drunk liquids since then.
“He is not in good shape. People on a hunger strike for more than 50 days are in real danger. The doctors are extremely concerned,” said Yael Shavit, spokeswoman for Sieff Hospital in the northern Israeli town of Safed, where Adnan has been taken. “He refuses to accept any treatment. He has not agreed to be hooked up to an IV,” she said, referring to intravenous infusion.
Palestinian officials say it is the longest hunger strike yet undertaken by a Palestinian prisoner and if Adnan dies, they expect major protests in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Adnan’s wife, Randa, denies media reports that he is a leader of Islamic Jihad, which is committed to Israel’s destruction and has been involved in numerous attacks on Israeli targets.
He is being held under so-called “administrative detention” that enables Israeli authorities to detain suspects without trial or charge indefinitely. A local rights group, al Haq, said 315 Palestinians were being held under the edict.
Randa told Reuters she had visited her husband on Tuesday and that he was shackled to his hospital bed and had lost 35 kg (77 lb). She said his skin was discolored, his hair had fallen out and he had sores around his mouth.
“He couldn’t pick up our daughter. He has no strength in his arms,” she said, adding that he had started to vomit blood.
The Israeli Prisons Authority said in a statement that Adnan was being “carefully treated in accordance with the law.”
It added that it had given “rare permission” for his family and clergy to visit, as well as representatives of the non-governmental charity Physicians for Human Rights (PHR).
The PHR said Adnan was on hunger strike to protest against his detention and “the humiliating and cruel conditions of interrogation.” It added that he was in an “precarious” condition and had been denied access to an independent doctor.
“He has guards in his room at all times and this is a huge problem,” said PHR activist Anat Litvin.
Litvin said Adnan has asked that he be examined by their doctors in private, but that guards refused to leave and the doctors could not examine him while he was shackled. “There is no justification for this,” she said.
The Israeli army said in a statement on Thursday that Adnan was arrested “for activities that threaten regional security. This warrant was authorized by a judicial review.” It gave no further details but said Adnan’s appeal was under review.
A few dozen Palestinians staged a small protest outside Israel’s Ofer prison in the West Bank on Thursday to demand Adnan’s release.
“My son is not hungry for food or thirsty for water, but loves his freedom and the freedom of his people and all the detainees,” said his father, Musa Adnan.