Six Palestinians prisoners have died while on hunger strike in Israeli prisons
A Palestinian prisoner flashes the V-sign from Israel's Hadarim prison in 2004. After more than nine weeks on hunger strike, Khader Adnan has become the Palestinian prisoner with by far the longest record of refusing food, Palestinian officials say. © Tal Cohen - AFP/File
Six Palestinians prisoners have died while on hunger strike in Israeli prisons
AFP
Last updated: February 21, 2012

Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails

After more than nine weeks on hunger strike, Khader Adnan became the Palestinian prisoner with by far the longest record of refusing food, Palestinian officials say.

A baker by trade, Adnan began his hunger strike on December 18, a day after he was arrested near his home in a village near the northern town of Jenin.

His strike entered its 66th day on Tuesday but finally ended after Israeli and Palestinian lawyers signed a deal under which Adnan would be freed on April 17 and his detention not be extended.

His marathon fast was a protest against being held without charge under a procedure known as "administrative detention" and against his mistreatment at the hands of Israeli authorities.

Because of his deteriorating health, the 33-year-old prisoner, a political activist with the Islamic Jihad movement, was transferred to a hospital in north Israel, where doctors warned he would face certain death if he continued beyond 10 weeks.

"A fast in excess of 70 days does not permit survival," Physicians for Human Rights-Israel said after one of its doctors examined him last week.

"Adnan has set an unprecedented record among Palestinian prisoners with his hunger strike," said Abdel Nasser Farawneh, an official with the Palestinian ministry for prisoner affairs.

Until now, the Palestinian record for going without food was set in 1976 when a group of prisoners ate nothing for 45 days. After a short break of several days, they then fasted for another 20 days.

Farawneh, who heads the ministry's statistics department, keeps records of the prisoners who have died while on hunger strike.

The first was Abdul Kader Abu al-Fahem who died in Ashkelon prison in 1970 after refusing food for nearly 20 days.

A decade later, four prisoners began a hunger strike in Nafha prison, near the southern desert town of Mitzpe Ramon.

Three of them, Rasem Halaweh, Anis Dawleh and Ali al-Jaafari, died after more than four weeks of refusing food.

The fourth prisoner, Ishaq Maraha, survived 32 days without food but died in 1983 from complications brought on by the lengthy strike, ministry statistics show.

The last Palestinian prisoner to die while on hunger strike in an Israeli prison was Hussein Ibeidat, in 1992, after 15 days without food.

"Khader Adnan is the longest and he is still alive. We hope he will stay alive," Farawneh told AFP.

Ministry documents show Adnan is no stranger to hunger strikes. He has been arrested at least eight times since 1999, and has on two previous occasions refused food in protest over his arrest.

In February 2000, he was arrested by the Palestinian Authority for encouraging his fellow students to throw stones at visiting French prime minister Lionel Jospin, sparking his first 10-day hunger strike.

And in March 2004, he was arrested by Israel and placed in solitary confinement; in protest he went on hunger strike for 28 days until the Israel Prisons Service relented and put him back in with the general population.

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