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From Muhammad Bouazizi to Khadr Adnan, oppressors know that their days are numbered

May 4, 2014 at 4:11 pm

After sixty days on hunger strike, Palestinian detainee Khadr Adnan remains shackled to a bed in an Israeli hospital in Safad. Mr Adnan is not an Israeli citizen and no criminal charges have ever been brought against him. He is a Palestinian who was abducted from his home in the occupied West Bank and taken forcibly to Israel. International humanitarian law prohibits “Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not… regardless of their motive.” We must assume that the only reason why this matter has been allowed to continue for so long is because the Israelis believe that in this, as in other instances when they treat international law with contempt, they have the power to act with impunity.

Khadr Adnan was detained on 17 December 2011. He began his hunger strike on his second day in detention in protest against the “administrative” order which authorised it. He adopted this non-violent form of protest because of the torture, abuse and humiliating treatment to which he was subjected during interrogation by the Israelis.

Palestinian prisoners have staged numerous hunger strikes in the past. This, however, is by far the longest ever undertaken by any Palestinian throughout the long struggle for freedom and independence. With the passing of the sixty-day milestone, Israel’s inhumane treatment of the Palestinian people is once again brought under the international spotlight.

Despite numerous calls from human rights bodies and Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur for human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Israel has persisted with its vicious policies. A quick scan of the Israeli electronic and print media reveals some of the most repugnant rhetoric which seeks to dehumanise Israel’s victims and justify their abuse at the hands of their oppressors.

The treatment of Khadr Adnan defies logic and reasonable explanation other than that it is an attempt to humiliate and terrorise a defenceless people. Here is a young father who holds a master’s degree in mathematics and economics; he has no criminal record, and yet has nothing to look forward to under the wretched Israeli military occupation of his land. His lawyer, Jawad Polis, was appalled by the conduct of his Israeli captors when Adnan was brought into the dining hall of the military hospital chained to a wheelchair. Of course, there was no charge recorded, nor evidence of any crime. The lawyer commented that only an abnormally sadistic mentality could choreograph such a situation. After 60 days on hunger strike, what “threat” does this individual pose to Israel’s “security” to warrant being bound in chains?

Amazingly, even in this vulnerable condition Adnan is unbreakable and undefeated. His is the story of the Palestinian people in their struggle against Israel’s colonisation of Palestine. It is no wonder, therefore, that tens of thousands belonging to all factions and age groups gathered  in Gaza on Friday to demonstrate their solidarity with their newest hero.

Across the region, messages of support continue to flow, from political leaders in Egypt and Tunisia as well as regional bodies such as the Union of Arab Doctors. As the days go by, Khadr Adnan’s case will resonate even louder in Arab capitals; and if his frail body succumbs before he is released there will, inevitably, be immense disgust and outrage directed at the self-styled “Jewish state”. Khadr Adnan is the epitome of a new generation of Palestinians and Arabs who prefer death with honour over life with no dignity.

Early on Friday, the Palestinian Minister of Prisoner Affairs, Eesa Qaraqae’, moved quickly to dispel rumours that Adnan had died. He urged journalists to exercise extreme caution and verify the facts before publishing reports about the case. Without having to elaborate, it appears that the memory of Muhammad Bouazizi is still fresh in Mr Qaraqae’s mind. By making the ultimate sacrifice of self-immolation, the young Tunisian set in motion a process of political and social change that is now irreversible across the Middle East.

Whatever happens in the days ahead, the case of Khadr Adnan may mark yet another turning point for the better in the Palestinian struggle against Israeli injustice and oppression. Hunger strikers seldom survive more than two months. The Irish republican legend Bobby Sands died after 66 days; Khadr Adnan has now passed 62 days and the clock is ticking. Unless something dramatic occurs, the result seems predictable. All of Israel’s attempts to blackmail him have failed; not only did the Israelis tell him that his wife had been unfaithful, but they also threatened that his children would become destitute orphans. Yet, during their last meeting this week, Adnan’s wife, Randa Jihad Musa, said that her husband was determined to taste “either freedom or death”.

The case of Khadr Adnan is much more than an individual’s protest against Israel’s arbitrary use of administrative detention and its culture of torture. It is about a people’s right to live in freedom and dignity in their own land; it is about their efforts to surmount the obstacles placed in their way by a devious and cruel enemy. Having witnessed the re-abduction of prisoners freed last year in the exchange agreement which also saw the release of Gilad Shalit (who, let us not forget, was at the time of his capture a serving Israeli soldier fighting against the civilians of Gaza) Palestinians know that only by being prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice will they be able to restore their usurped rights.

Khadr Adnan’s brave and principled stand has once again exposed the cruel nature of Israel’s military occupation. The Israeli state’s right-wing leaders continue to resist calls for Adnan’s release, but, as one old lady in Libya said, every tyrant has his day. Just as Muhammad Bouazizi’s sacrifice changed the politics of the region forever, so too will the sacrifice of Khadr Adnan bring about a new phase in the Palestinian struggle for freedom. The clock that ticks and brings the release of his martyr’s death ever closer should be a warning to Israel and its supporters that their illegal, unjust and cruel occupation will one day also come to an end. It has to, and it will.