Israel Top Court Takes Palestinian Detainee Appeal

Published February 20, 2012 12:54PM (EST)

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's Supreme Court has scheduled a hearing this week on the appeal of a Palestinian prisoner waging an unprecedented hunger strike that has stretched for more than two months, court officials and his lawyers said Monday.

Adnan Khader, a member of the Islamic Jihad militant group, is demanding he be released immediately. He has not been charged with a crime and does not know what he is suspected of doing.

The case of the 33-year-old Adnan has attracted widespread attention among Palestinians, with large crowds holding regular protests in his support.

The life-threatening gamble has also drawn broader attention toward Israel's policy of "administrative detention," under which Palestinians can be held without charge for months, and even years, at a time.

Both the European Union and the United Nations have said they are following the case closely and urged Israel to give Adnan an open trial.

Adnan was arrested on Dec. 17 and later sentenced to four months of administrative detention. He launched the strike a day after his arrest, protesting his administrative detention and claiming he was beaten and humiliated in captivity.

Israel has defended its policy as a way to address imminent security threats. It says that releasing evidence against suspects would endanger its network of informants.

Capt. Eytan Buchman, an Israeli military spokesman, says Adnan is suspected of acts that "threaten regional security." He would not elaborate.

A military court already rejected an appeal by Adnan on Feb. 13. The Supreme Court will hear his appeal on Thursday, court officials said, though it remains unclear when it will announce its ruling.

Adnan's lawyers said that after 65 days without food, his condition is so poor that they are not sure he will make it past the hearing.

He is losing his hair, his muscles have atrophied and he can only speak in whispers, said Yael Moram, a spokeswoman for Israel's Physicians for Human Rights, which has been monitoring his condition.

Adnan is being held under guard in a hospital in northern Israel. He has been taking liquids infused with electrolytes to keep alive.

In a separate development Monday, Israeli police said vandals sprayed anti-Christian graffiti on a Baptist church in Jerusalem.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the words "price tag" were also scrawled on the church property. It is a reference to a practice of Jewish extremists who lash out against the Israeli government for actions against settlers.

Such attacks usually target Muslim and Palestinian sites in the West Bank, but the vandals have recently spread their activities to target Muslim and Christian minorities in Israel.

Rosenfeld said police were searching for the suspects.

By Salon Staff

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