Thousands march for Palestinian hunger striker Khader Adnan
Thousands of Palestinians marched in Gaza and the West Bank on Friday in support of seriously ill hunger striker Khader Adnan, amid international condemnation of his continued detention without charge.
"We are all Khader Adnan," chanted crowds gathered in the Gaza Strip, with activists from the main political parties joining forces in a rare display of Palestinian unity.
At least 5,000 people took to the streets of Gaza, while witnesses said hundreds had also demonstrated in the northern West Bank city of Jenin.
Palestinian officials said many other prisoners in Israeli jails had started hunger strikes in support of Adnan.
Adnan, 33, has been refusing food since mid-December following his arrest in the occupied West Bank.
He is being held under so-called "administrative detention," which means Israel can detain him indefinitely without trial or charge.
Under Israel's military law, prisoners can be held in administrative detention for up to six months without charge or trial. The detention can be renewed at the end of the period, effectively allowing Israel to hold Palestinians in jail indefinitely.
A local rights group, al-Haq, said 315 Palestinians were being held under the edict.
Human Rights Watch argues Israel's administrative detention policy is a violation of international law.
"Israel’s international legal obligations, however, require it to inform those arrested of the reasons for the arrest at the time, to promptly inform them of any charges against them and to bring them before a judge," the rights-group said in a press release.
The Physicians for Human Rights group in Israel (PHR), which has been monitoring Adnan's condition in an Israeli hospital, said on Friday he was "in immediate danger of death," adding that he had suffered "significant muscular atrophy."
Hamas, which governs Gaza, said it was pushing the Arab League and Egypt to press for the release of Adnan.
"The Palestinian people, with all its components and its factions, will never abandon the hero prisoners, especially those who lead this hunger strike battle," said Ismail Haniyeh, Prime Minister of Hamas-held Gaza.
Israel has rejected repeated appeals for his release, but lawyers for Adnan lodged a final appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court on Wednesday.
International pressure on Israel increased on Friday, with the UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian Human Rights condemning the detention.
Richard Falk said the case was “a revealing microcosm of the unbearable cruelty of prolonged occupation.”
“It draws a contrast in the West between the dignity of an Israeli prisoner and the steadfast refusal to heed the abuse of thousands of Palestinians languishing in Israeli jails through court sentence or administrative order,” he said.
The Palestinian Council of Human Rights Organizations (PCHRO) urged the UN and the European Union to take immediate action to force Israel to release Adnan.
The Irish Republican movement Sinn Fein, whose MP Bobby Sands died in 1981 after 66 days without food in protest over British colonial rule, condemned the detention.
The party's foreign spokesman Pádraig Mac Lochlainn called on the governments of Europe to intervene.
“I am calling on the Tánaiste (Irish Prime Minister) and his European counterparts to urgently intervene to save Khader Adnan’s life.
“The practice of ‘administrative detentions’ is clearly unjust and has been used systematically as part of the military occupation of the Palestinian territories by the Israeli state.”
Amnesty International have also condemned Adnan's imprisonment, as well as Israel's administrative detention, saying the policy violates Israel's obligations to international law.