Khader Adnan: Dying for Justice ~ Stephen Lendman
He’s a legend in his own time. Global human rights groups, activists, and many others support him.
His extraordinary courage demands acknowledgement and recognition.
Obama and officials in his administration did nothing to help him.
Israel’s media took note. American media scoundrels barely notice.
On February 17, FAIR’s Peter Hart (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) headlined his Huntington Post article, “Pundits Waiting for a Palestinian Gandhi? Meet Khader Adnan,” saying:
He’s attracting world attention. He’s Palestine’s Bobby Sands. Major media scoundrels ignore him. His story begs to be told, but they’re largely silent.
“His plight is sparsely covered in the US corporate media…” Instead they cheerlead war and party while imperial America ravages the world one country at a time.
In contrast, supportive groups and alternative media champion his heroic struggle. Israel wants him dead. Supporters won’t stay silent and resist. The whole world’s watching, but you never know it following US television and print media.
A Robert Mackey New York Times blog article was the “newspaper of record’s” sole contribution. He reported how “Palestinians and Israelis who oppose the system of military justice rallied in support of Mr. Adnan….”
His brief article was accurate to a degree but ignored the plight of Palestinians under nearly 45 years of repressive occupation and 64 years since Israel stole their country. Adnan’s their symbolic hero. He’s willing to die for justice. That’s courage few anywhere can match.
Now 65 days and counting, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) says “fast(ing) in excess of 70 days does not permit survival.” On February 19, a joint PHR-I/Addameer Prisoner Support group statement said Israel’s High Court will hear his petition on Thursday, February 23 at 11:30AM.
On Monday, Israel’s Supreme Court rescheduled Adnan for Tuesday without explanation. He’ll be on day 66.
PHR-I provided a detailed medical report. It explained his “immediate danger of death.” Both groups expressed great displeasure that despite his condition and world activism on his behalf, Israel’s High Court delayed his petition hearing. Now they moved it up. Perhaps it’s still too late, and consider the problem.
If they don’t rule favorably post haste, it won’t matter. If they do and order his immediate release, Israel’s prison authority may appeal or delay.
Israel’s hanging Judge Moshe Tirosh rejected his lower court appeal. High Court justices rarely override. Frustrated lawyers call the whole process oppressive. They want to help but can’t.
The Hamoked Center for the Defense of the Individual discussed “Israeli Case-Law under Scrutiny,” saying:
“For over forty years, Israel has systematically violated the rights of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and its obligations under international law.”
Justice Israeli-style completely abandoned its role. Justices side with prosecutors. Decisions are based on “confidential security material” with little chance to review or challenge. Due process and judicial fairness are entirely absent.
“The Israeli courts, whether directly or indirectly, provide a legal seal of approval for the acts of the occupation.” They’re complicit with state crimes against humanity. As a result, Palestinian lives are lost. Only Jewish ones matter.
On February 16, Addameer and Hamoked lawyers petitioned Israel’s military commander Yair Koles. He issued Adnan’s administrative detention order. They urged him to cancel it saying:
“(D)ue to his medical condition, (he) can no longer uphold the ill-founded allegations that (Adnan) poses an immediate threat to the security of the Area or public security of the State of Israel; therefore, continuing to hold (him) is prima facie a violation of international law and Israeli law and amounts to arbitrary law” and a death sentence.
So far, no response was forthcoming.
“Addameer and PHR-Israel condemn the fact that the government of Israel continues to deliberate inaction and delay in disregard of the urgency of (Adnan’s) case. Addameer and PHR-Israel hold the government of Israel accountable for” his life.
Both groups called on international communities to exert immediate pressure on his behalf. Weasel words won’t help. Strong condemnation of Israeli lawlessness is demanded now.
On February 20, the Palestine News Network stressed Adnan’s 65 days without food, saying “one day for each year of occupation….; one day, one year, of steadfastness, resilience, resistance, and dignity in the face of occupation and oppression.”
His extraordinary courage demands others “amplify his message, support his action, demand his freedom – and the freedom of Palestine.”
From his hospital bed, he said he’s “confronting the occupiers not for my sake as an individual, but for the sake of thousands of prisoners who are being deprived of their simplest human rights while the world and international community look on” dismissively.
He’s doing it for all Palestinians under oppressive, illegal occupation for decades.
On February 20, the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights condemned Israel’s barbaric treatment. Prisoners resist their only way by refusing food. Dozens of previous hunger strikes occurred. Adnan did earlier when detained.
Al Mezan highlighted Israeli lawlessness, saying:
Palestine’s illegally occupied. Palestinians are arbitrarily detained. Thousands are currently held and tortured, including 25 Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) members for belonging to the wrong party.
Israel “deprive(s) Palestinian detainees of their rights to visitation by family and lawyers, education, access to books and magazines, and prevents (them) from purchasing needed goods and receiving appropriate medical treatment.”
Inadequate amounts of poor quality food are provided, and many detainees are isolated repressively in solitary confinement for extended periods.
“Al Mezan reiterates its previous calls on the international community to intervene to end Israel’s systematic and grave abuses against Palestinian detainees” and demand Adnan’s immediate release.
Thousands of Palestinians rallied in support. So did hundreds of prisoners going on open-ended hunger strikes. Harsh punishment followed, including isolation in solitary confinement.
Adnan’s wife Randa fears the worst, but clings to hope he’ll be saved. She’s enduring best she can. Five months pregnant, she has two daughters. She’s been outspoken for her husband. She deplores the lack of objective reporting, including misstating what she says.
In his 65th day, he’s Palestine’s longest known hunger striker. “He is fading away and his eyes are sunken,” said Randa. “They are beautiful, bluish-green in color and should be seen.”
He’s been detained eight previous times. Since 1967, over 700,000 Palestinians have been imprisoned. They include about 40% of Palestinian males and thousands of women and children. Most are political prisoners. Their crime: praying to the wrong God in a Jewish state.
As a result, Israel calls them terrorists.
After visiting Adnan on Sunday, his lawyer Jawad Boulus said he was surprised by his upbeat spirit, saying:
“You can’t believe his will. I am amazed.”
YNet News mistakenly said he’s being force-fed. Its Hebrew edition said “(T)he Medical Ethics Committee allowed the Israel Prison Service to treat” him….The decision was made after members of the committee spoke with the detainee and gained the impression that he does not want to die.”
It mistakenly added that prison doctors “can give him transfusions of salts and sugars if necessary.”
On February 20 the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) issued an “Urgent Call for Action,” saying:
“We call upon you to exert all possible influence and pressure on the Israeli Authorities to immediately release detainee Khader Adnan, whose life is in immediate danger as he has been on a hunger strike for the past 64 days.”
“For the past decades Israel has applied the procedure of administrative detention on a large scale, systematically imprisoning thousands of Palestinians, as a tool of political oppression. This is a grave violation of the fourth Geneva Convention as well as the Convention on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention Against Torture.”
“It is time to act. Tomorrow might be too late.”
A Final Comment
Outspoken against injustice, David Rovics is an activist song writer. His most recent one honors Adnan. Titled “Khader Adnan, Bobby Sands,” its lyrics are as follows:
“Khader Adnan grew up near Jenin City
You could say he was a product of his time
Ever since he was a kid he’d get arrested
Though he was never charged with any crime
Spending half his life in prison
A life lived like so many of his friends
Arbitrary and indefinite detention
Never knowing if your jail time would end
Khader Adnan was arrested last December
Again he wasn’t told the reason why
He was shackled, he was beaten, he was tortured
There beneath the Middle Eastern sky
Perhaps there was a moment when he realized
That right then, with his body, he’d say no
But from then on he refused to eat another meal
Like in Belfast not many years ago
Khader Adnan grew up in a war zone
But all the tanks and planes were only on one side
It was a type of war that they call occupation
Settlement, removal, fratricide
And anyone who talked about resistance
Who thought they did not deserve to be a slave
Would be looking down the barrel of a gun
And often find themselves inside an early grave
Khader Adnan loves his wife and daughters
And he likes to eat his daily bread
But in prison he can’t see his children
Or live life with the lady that he wed
So on behalf of all the children without fathers
He decided he had to strike a blow
He said I will have dignity or death
Like in Belfast not many years ago
Each time Khader Adnan was arrested
In prison he would learn a little more
And soon he became the teacher
And he’d talk about the times that came before
They talked about civil disobedience
They talked about the ballot and the gun
They talked about the Occupied Six Counties
And the H Blocks in 1981
Khader Adnan talked of perseverance
And how someday their people might be free
How someday they might hear their children laughing
Unafraid, how someday things could be
And then at 3:30 on one morning
The soldiers came, their rifles pointed low
And they took Khader Adnan from his family
Like in Belfast not many years ago
They say Khader Adnan is a terrorist
Just like they said of Bobby Sands
Because he dares speak out against injustice
Because he dares to make a stand
Because he dares believe that he is human
And he does not deserve to live this way
Because he dares to consider an alternative
Because he dares imagine a new day
Khader Adnan lost his liberty before he was born
To fight for life it’s death he must embrace
But just like others come before him
There are others waiting to take his place
And even the great powers can lose interest
In supporting such a vicious status quo
Because you can’t break a man who won’t be broken
Like in Belfast not many years ago.”
We’re all Khader Adnan. His struggle is ours.
Israeli Torture: Accountability Denied ~ Stephen Lendman
The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PACTI) “believes that torture and ill-treatment of any kind and under all circumstances is incompatible with the moral values of democracy and the rule of law.”
Yet it’s systematically practiced by Israel’s Police, Israel Securities Authority (ISA), Israeli Prison Service (IPS), and Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).
An earlier 2009 PACTI report discussed the practice and systematic disregard of hundreds of complaints filed from 2001 – 2009.
A new January report updates the earlier one, titled, “Accountability Still Denied,” saying:
No investigations followed over 700 earlier complaints filed. Israel whitewashed and forgot them for two reasons: “either denial or justification under the necessity defense doctrine,” even though international law prohibits torture at all times, under all circumstances, with no allowed exceptions.
No matter. Lies substitute for truth, full disclosure and justice. They’re not in Israel’s vocabulary. Instead, statements like: “There is no basis for your complaint” are common.
Brutality against and justice denied Jihad Mughrabi was typical. In his sworn affidavit, he said:
“I tried to cover my face in order to protect it from their blows. They struck me with their fists and kicked me in the legs. I was lying on my side covering my face with my hands and arms.”
“They also struck me with their guns, with the butts of their guns with the wide back portion of the gun. They used the guns in this way to strike my head and not my body. At times I felt very faint. They saw I was fainting all the time. I felt I lost consciousness.”
“I was bleeding profusely from the head, and also from my mouth. There were cuts on my face as a result of their punches. For the first few days afterwards, I could not swallow because of the pain.”
Three years later, forensic experts said “Mughrabi suffers from chronic pain and major depression as a result of the alleged abuse.”
Over two and a half years after a second complaint on his behalf, Israeli’s legal authorities lied, saying:
“The inquiry shows clearly that the complainant was the one who violently attacked the security personnel of the ISA….Your detailed complaint and the complainant’s account of events….are inconsistent….and should therefore be rejected.”
No documentation accompanies these type responses. As a result, systematic coverup and lies are compounded. Victims bear the burden of proof. Their version of events are denied. Absent independent inquiries, justice nearly always is denied.
Nonetheless, pursuing all possible avenues, PACTI filed five High Court of Justice petitions on behalf of 26 victims. Each endured especially harrowing physical and psychological torture and/or ill treatment in the course of Israeli Security Authority (ISA) interrogations.
A core effort involves a February 2011 petition. It challenges the Attorney General’s (AG) comprehensive referral of torture complaints to the Inspector of Interrogee Complaints (IIC – an ISA agent). Its arguments are as follows:
(1) By law, the AG must refer all torture complaints to proper authorities.
(2) Requiring additional corroborating evidence assures whitewash. Physical and psychological scars aren’t enough. As a result, torture nearly always becomes an “evidence free” crime, excluding the possibility of justice.
(3) AG actions violate the responsibility to investigate all torture complaints, as established under international law.
“Necessity defense” justification accounts for about 15% of PACTI complaints since 2003. The landmark High Court 1999 ruling banning most torture methods determined that “necessity” doesn’t constitute sweeping a priori authorization for “physical” interrogations.
At the same time, it established a huge loophole, empowering the AG to devise guidelines for treating “ticking bomb” cases.
In other words, extremis exceptions lie in the eyes of beholders to define as they wish. As a result, torture and ill-treatment got de facto approval even though international law is firm. Israel circumvents it and its own. The most egregious practices follow.
PACTI says necessity doesn’t abrogate Israel’s obligation to investigate when reasonable grounds cite torture.
PACTI’s Petition for Mahmoud Sweiti
On February 15, PACTI petitioned on his behalf. The case involved ISA agents admitting they acted contrary to approved procedures by staging a hoax to extract a confession. Sweiti was told his wife and father were detained.
Then AG Raz Nizri told PACTI:
“As a rule, in a situation when a family member of the detainee is not in detention, and there is no legal reason to detain him or her, it is not appropriate to make the interrogee believe the family member is under detention.”
As a result of subjecting him to extreme psychological pressure, Sweiti made repeated attempts on his own life. Psychological evaluation determined he suffered severe emotional harm.
In response to the High Court Petition on his behalf, Israel disputes PACTI’s demands for a criminal investigation. It argued the complaint should have been requested initially.
“Sweiti’s case shows even when ISA admits using illegal interrogation methods under international law, Israel denies proper investigations to determine evidence of fault.”
Shifts in Policy?
PACTI hoped possible changes might come in how interrogee complaints are examined. For example, in November 2010, Israel’s AG announced plans to shift ICC responsibility from the ISA to Justice Ministry. Nonetheless, he left critical issues unaddressed.
Since April 2011, PACTI fruitlessly sought documents not provided. It wanted details on a possible policy shift. Finally, in late October, proposed plans were confirmed but not implemented. It suggests cosmetic ones only coming, not real accountability.
“To this day, the official charged with examining complaints of torture against his own colleagues in the ISA continues to deem these unworthy of criminal investigation, with the unquestioning endorsement of the Israeli legal authorities including the Attorney General.”
The clearest information on Israel’s ISA accountability comes from Deputy State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan’s testimony before the Turkel Commission. It was established to whitewash the May 31, 2010 Mavi Marmara massacre.
Defending current practices, he dismissed complainants as “interested parties (with a) basic resentment against the State of Israel.” As a result, they stand to benefit from submitting “frivolous” complaints.
He also claimed “many times those who file complaints are interrogees who confessed during interrogation to committing security offenses against the State of Israel.”
His attitude displayed dismissive arrogance. His rationale failed to address key issues. First, preliminary inquiries can’t, under Israeli law, comprehensively replace criminal investigations and don’t fulfill international standards.
Second, legitimate complaints can’t be dismissed for lack of witness confirmation to interrogation torture. Finally, while torture and other ill-treatment don’t always leave wounds or other visible proof, PACTI research shows Israeli medical personnel failed to adequately document and report practices. Moreover, authorities prohibited independent medical evaluations until lesions healed.
ISA interrogations are exempt from audio or visual documentation. Detainees are held incommunicado for long periods. A culture of lies and coverup follows. Torturers are unaccountable. As a result, Nitzan’s explanation is “entirely unacceptable.”
A Final Comment
Israeli policy makers know what’s going on and protections in place for ISA torturers. Nonetheless, expect cosmetic measures at best ahead addressing them. Safeguards with teeth won’t be included.
Israeli law enforcement officials spurn international law obligations. Sunshine’s the best way to expose them. Perhaps change will eventually follow.
Israel’s had impunity for decades. It’s long past time that ended. Pressure alone may succeed. It’s vital to sustain it unflaggingly until what can’t be tolerated ends.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.