Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in Gaza and the West Bank over the weekend demanding the release of Khader Adnan, reportedly a senior member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a militant group that has killed Israelis. Israel’s high court is set to hear his appeal on Tuesday, the 66th day of his hunger strike protesting being detained without charge.
Commentators throughout the Middle East were comparing Adnan to Bobby Sands, the I.R.A. prisoner who died after a 66-day hunger strike, saying that Adnan might focus worldwide attention on the plight of Palestinian prisoners, the way Sands did for the Irish Republicans’ cause.
In +972, an Internet magazine from Israel and Palestine, Noam Sheizaf laid out the failings of Israel’s detention system, including military courts with 99.7 percent conviction rates and detention on no charges or without trial. “Administrative arrests are in sync with the zeitgeist in Israel, in which every Palestinian is a terrorist until proven otherwise, and therefore not worthy of the rights given to other human beings,” Sheizaf wrote. Adnan was subjected to “inhumane and degrading treatment that is totally unlawful and morally inexcusable,” Richard Falk, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, claimed in a piece for Al-Jazeera, noting that at least 300 Palestinians were also being held under administrative arrest in Israel. “The international community should make a point of putting pressure on Israel to release the political prisoners and stop this gross denial of Palestinians’ rights,” said the Dubai-based Gulf News.
Adnan’s case must serve as a wake-up call. His protest could “bring about a new phase in the Palestinian struggle for freedom,” argued the U.K.-based Middle East Monitor. At least better to think in those terms rather than vengefully. According to the National, in Abu Dhabi, “History has shown that a ‘sea of blood’ is hardly likely to wash away Israel’s injustices, while weakening support for legitimate and essential Palestinian resistance.”
Meanwhile, to some, Palestinian leaders were illustrating how tone-deaf they are by signing another unity deal. “Khader’s case highlights the unparalleled chasm separating Palestinian leaders from the everyday issues and struggles of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories,” wrote Ramzy Baroud in the Palestine Chronicle.
Most Israelis haven’t seemed much concerned either, according to Aziz Abu Sarah in the Palestine News Network. Of the thousands of Israelis who had called for the release of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, he wondered, “Where are they when it comes to Palestinian rights in their prisons?”
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