Israel briefly detains Palestinian hunger striker after release

Police say Khader Adnan arrested for entering Old City of Jerusalem in violation of rules

A Palestinian man holds up a poster of Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan in protest of Adnan's previous administrative detention, February 10, 2012. (Sliman Khader/Flash90)
A Palestinian man holds up a poster of Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan in protest of Adnan's previous administrative detention, February 10, 2012. (Sliman Khader/Flash90)

The Palestinian activist Khader Adnan, who was released from Israeli detention Sunday after a 56-day hunger strike, was arrested Monday in Jerusalem and held for several hours before being freed.

Adnan was detained in the Old City of Jerusalem, where he sought to attend Ramadan prayers, because Israeli restrictions barred Palestinians under 50 from attending, police said.

He was released home after several hours.

Officials with the Palestinian security services said Adnan was arrested while heading to to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the third-holiest site in Islam, for a special ceremony during the sacred fasting month of Ramadan.

“Khader Adnan was arrested because he had no right to be in the Old City of Jerusalem where free access is allowed to West Bank Palestinians only aged 50 and above, and he is just 37,” Israel Police spokesperson Luba Samri told AFP.

Samri insisted, however, it was not an arrest as such, but an “inquiry to investigate the offense committed by Khader Adnan.”

Micky Rosenfeld, another police spokesman, said Adnan is “an Islamic Jihad activist and is also prohibited for this reason from entering Israeli territory.”

Adnan, who was held by Israel without trial for a year, was released early Sunday in keeping with a deal reached with him two weeks earlier, Palestinian reports said.

Allegedly a senior member of the Iran-affiliated Islamic Jihad terror group in the West Bank, Adnan drew attention to his incarceration by going on a hunger strike, which, according to supporters, left him near death.

He was taken to a hospital in the West Bank city of Jenin for observation, reports said.

He ended the strike on June 29 after Israel agreed to release him from administrative detention two weeks later, on July 12, his lawyer Jawad Boulos and the Palestinian Prisoners Club announced at the time.

On Sunday, Adnan had been given a hero’s welcome in his village near Jenin in the northern West Bank with fireworks, songs and flags flying for Islamic Jihad.

Administrative detention allows imprisonment without charge for renewable periods of six months, indefinitely, and is used by Israeli military authorities to hold suspects without requiring the due process of civilian courts.

Adnan was arrested a year ago, shortly after the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank, which led to a wave of arrests of hundreds of activists in Hamas and other terror groups and was a major cause of last summer’s 50-day war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

During a previous period of incarceration without trial, in 2012, Adnan went on a hunger strike that lasted for 66 days. He was released at the end of the strike, during which he ingested vitamins and salt.

This time, he refused to swallow anything except water.

The Palestinian government had warned that it held Israel responsible for his fate, while the Israeli government in mid-June relaunched the process of instating a law that would allow prisoners to be force-fed when their lives are in danger.

The Palestinian leadership cited the condition of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails in its submissions to the International Criminal Court last month.

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