Lawyer Of Palestinian Hunger Striker Files Appeal

Published February 18, 2012 1:54PM (EST)

JERUSALEM (AP) — A Palestinian who has waged a hunger strike for an unprecedented 63 days has appealed to Israel's Supreme Court, demanding to be released from months-long detention without trial, his lawyer said Saturday.

Khader Adnan is fighting a provision that allows Israel to hold detainees for months or even years without trial or formal charges. Israeli officials say they use so-called "administrative detention" to guard against immediate threats to the country's security.

Adnan, a member of the militant group Islamic Jihad, has continued his hunger strike longer than any Palestinian detainee before him. His doctors warned this week that the 33-year-old might die soon.

"We are hoping ... the Supreme Court hears this case urgently," said Mahmoud Hassan, one of Adnan's lawyers. "He could die before the court hearing happens."

The court has not set a date for the hearing. Hassan said in previous cases, the high court at times reduced the sentence of administrative detainees on appeal, but that it rarely ordered them freed outright.

The hunger strike has already turned Adnan into a Palestinian hero, with thousands protesting in support of the once obscure bearded baker. Islamic Jihad has vowed revenge if Adnan dies, possibly by firing rockets into Israel from Gaza.

He is being kept under guard in a northern Israeli hospital, and Israeli officials are monitoring his condition.

He is taking liquid infusions of salts, glucose and minerals, said the Israeli branch of Physicians for Human Rights on Wednesday, citing his doctor. The group is overseeing his medical care.

Although he is still lucid, Adnan has shed some 66 pounds (30 kilograms), his hair is falling out, his muscles have atrophied and he is in immediate danger of death, said the group's doctor.

Adnan is serving four months in administrative detention. Israeli military judges can imprison defendants for up to six months at a time, with the possibility of renewing the detention order repeatedly. Defendants and their lawyers are not shown the alleged evidence against them. An Israeli military judge rejected an earlier appeal by Adnan last week, saying he had reviewed the evidence and found the sentence to be fair.

Israeli military officials generally use administrative detention to hold Palestinians who they believe are an imminent risk to the country's security. Defenders of the system say that if the evidence against the accused was made public, it would expose how Israeli intelligence-gathering networks operate in the Palestinian Territories. They say the process is under full judicial review by Israel's military and the Supreme Court.

Adnan was once a spokesman for Islamic Jihad and remains a member, his family says. But it's not clear if he ever directly participated in any attacks.

He began his hunger strike on Dec. 18, a day after he was seized from his home in the northern West Bank town of Arabeh.

Adnan told his lawyers that he was beaten and humiliated during arrest and interrogation.

Also Saturday, Palestinian militants fired three rockets from Gaza into Israel, officials said.

Israeli police spokesman Shmuel Ben Ruby and a military official said the rockets landed in an open area, causing no damage.

A years-old understanding between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers have halted much of the rocket fire from the tiny territory. But Palestinian militants continue to fire salvos at Israel — either in defiance of Hamas, or with the militant rulers' quiet permission.

No Palestinian group immediately claimed responsibility for the rocket firing.

By Salon Staff

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