Israel: UN experts demand accountability for death of Khader Adnan and mass arbitrary detention of Palestinians

Geneva, 3 May, 2023.- The death of Palestinian hunger striker Khader Adnan must be accounted for, UN experts said today, calling Israel’s mass arbitrary detention of Palestinians “cruel” and “inhumane.”

The 45-year-old Palestinian prisoner died in his prison cell on Tuesday morning after a hunger strike that spanned nearly three months. He was protesting Israel’s widespread policy of arbitrarily detaining Palestinians against fair trial guarantees and in abhorrent conditions.

Khader Adnan went on hunger strike shortly after he was last arrested on 5 February 2023 by Israeli authorities on terrorism-related charges. Despite the serious deterioration of his health, Israeli authorities refused to release Adnan or transfer him to hospital, and continued to detain him in a prison hospital facility, reportedly without providing adequate health care. The experts noted that Khader Adnan was arrested at least 12 times in the past, spent around eight years in prison, mostly in administrative detention, and went on hunger strike five times.

“The death of Khader Adnan is a tragic testament to Israel’s cruel and inhumane detention policy and practices, as well as the international community’s failure to hold Israel accountable in the face of callous illegalities perpetrated against Palestinian inmates,” the experts said.

Israel currently holds approximately 4900 Palestinians in its prisons, including 1016 administrative detainees who are held for an indefinite period without trial or charge, based on secret information. The number of administrative detainees in Israeli detention facilities is at its highest since 2008, despite repeated condemnation from international human rights bodies and recommendations for Israel to immediately end the practice. In recent years, many Palestinian prisoners have resorted to hunger strikes to protest the brutality of Israel’s detention practices.

“We cannot separate Israel’s carceral policies from the colonial nature of its occupation, intended to control and subjugate all Palestinians in the territory Israel wants to control,” the UN experts said. “The systematic practice of administrative detention, is tantamount to a war crime of wilfully depriving protected persons of the rights of fair and regular trial.”

The experts said it was ever more urgent for the international community to hold Israel accountable for its illegal acts in the occupied territory and stop the normalisation of war crimes that have become a daily reality in the lives of Palestinians.

“How many more lives will have to be lost, before an inch of justice can be delivered in the occupied Palestinian territory?” they said.

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