Israeli military authorities should immediately charge or release a Palestinian detained since December 17, 2011, without charge on the basis of secret evidence that he is not allowed to see or contest, Human Rights Watch said today. Khader Adnan Mousa went on hunger strike on December 18 to protest his administrative detention.
Adnan’s family, his lawyer, and doctors from an Israeli rights group, who visited Adnan this week told Human Rights Watch that his health has deteriorated seriously and that Israeli authorities had shackled him to his hospital bed.
“Israel should immediately end its unlawful administrative detention of Adnan and charge or release him,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “He may be approaching death from his hunger strike, and yet Israel is chaining him to his hospital bed without bothering to even charge him with any wrongdoing.”
Adnan, 33, has been on hunger strike for 55 days. According to a 2006 study by the British Medical Association, “during the 1980 and 1981 hunger strikes in Northern Ireland […] death generally occurred between 55 and 75 days.” In general, “the final stage” of a hunger strike occurs between 45 to 75 days “due to cardiovascular collapse or severe arrhythmias,” the study said.
Adnan’s sister and his wife told Human Rights Watch that Israeli forces arrested him at 3:30 a.m. on December 17 at their home in Arrabeh, near Jenin, in the northern West Bank. They said the soldiers did not inform the family of the reason for his arrest. His wife, Randa, said he has been arrested nine times, first in 1999, sometimes under administrative detention, and that he had also been convicted and sentenced by military courts for advocating on behalf of Islamic Jihad, an organization banned by the Israeli authorities.
Human Rights Watch has condemned attacks by the armed wing of Islamic Jihad against Israeli civilians as war crimes and crimes against humanity. However, Israel has not claimed that Adnan has participated in such attacks or charged him with any other crime, his lawyer said, and is holding him on the basis of secret evidence that he and his lawyer are not allowed to see or challenge. Adnan’s lawyer said the only known allegation against him arose when Adnan was questioned after his detention about his participation in a graduation ceremony for a kindergarten that was allegedly funded by Islamic Jihad.
On December 25, military authorities ordered Adnan’s remand in detention until January 8, when they ordered his administrative detention for four months. His first military court hearing was on January 30. During a second hearing on February 1, Adnan said he was placed in solitary confinement four days after his arres, and had been subjected to physical abuse, threats of assault, insults, prolonged interrogation, and unsanitary conditions of detention, his lawyer told Human Rights Watch.
Adnan’s family has been able to see him twice since his arrest: during the hearing on December 30, where they were not able to speak with him, and for 45 minutes at a hospital on February 7.Adnan’s wife told Human Rights Watch that he used to weigh 90 kilograms but that as of February 7 he appeared to have lost a third of his body weight and that he said had not bathed or changed clothes for a long time.
“His fingernails were very long,” she said, “and an Israeli prison guard was with him and one of his arms and both legs were chained to the hospital bed.”The visit occurred in Ziv hospital in Safed, inside Israel, where Adnan was transferred on February 6.
Adnan’s lawyer, as well as doctors from Physicians for Human Rights, an Israeli group, visited him at Ziv hospital separately and also stated that Israeli authorities kept Adnan shackled to his hospital bed during the visits. The Israeli physicians’ group stated that a guard from the Israel Prison Service refused to leave the area to permit the doctor to examine Adnan in private.
The Israeli doctors’ group told Human Rights Watch that Israeli authorities previously allowed their doctors to examine Adnan once, on January 29, when he was transferred from prison to the Assaf Ha-Rofeh hospital. Adnan stated that he would allow further examination and treatment only by the group’s doctors, but the Israel Prison Service transferred him to five different medical institutions during the following eight days, making it difficult for doctors and family members to visit him, according to the doctor’s group and his lawyer.
On February 6, an Israeli military judge, Dalya Kaufman, approved his administrative detention on the basis of an assessment by a physician for the Israel Prison Service, rejecting Adnan’s petition for release due to his deteriorating condition. However, Adnan has refused to allow prison service medics to perform medical examinations and has requested that medical examinations be conducted in private, rather than in the immediate presence of prison guards, and that the results be confidential, rather than shared with prison and security services, the physicians’ group said. Israeli authorities have not allowed the Israeli doctors to carry out examinations under such circumstances.
The military judge also ruled out alternatives to administrative detention on the basis of secret evidence that Adnan is a risk to Israeli security.
Adnan was shackled to his bed again at an appeals hearing against his continued detention, held at Ziv hospital on February 9. A military appeals court judge, Moshe Tirosh, did not reach a decision on the appeal but said he would do so within a week; the details of the hearing were not public, said Addameer, a Palestinian prisoners’ group.
Under Israeli military law, detainees considered a threat to Israeli security may be held without charge or trial for periods of up to six months, which can be renewed indefinitely. Administrative detainees are not told the reason for their detention or the specific allegations against them. A military judge must approve the detention order, but most of the material submitted by the prosecution is classified and not shown to the detainee or his lawyer, because Israeli military authorities claim it cannot be revealed for security reasons.
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, and in criminal cases, to provide a fair and public trial in which the defendant may challenge any witnesses against them.
Palestinian prisoners in Ofer, Megiddo, and Ramon prisons began a hunger strike in support of Adnan on February 2, Addameer said.
Israeli authorities were holding 307 Palestinians in administrative detention as of December 31, up from 219 administrative detainees at the beginning of 2011, according to the Israel Prison Service.
“Israel should end, today, before it’s too late, its almost two-month-long refusal to inform Adnan of any criminal charge or evidence against him,” Whitson said.