Remember Khader Adnan, martyr of freedom

Palestinians walk past a mural depicting Khader Adnan in Gaza City on 2 May 2023.

On May 2, Palestinian resistance leader, rights activist, and prisoner Khader Adnan died at the age of 45 after an 87-day hunger strike. He leaves behind his spouse Randa Adnan and nine children, who are now without their father. Adnan came to international prominence as a symbol of Palestinian human rights due to his continued hunger strikes against the inhumane practice of administrative detention common throughout Israel-occupied Palestine. 

The administrative detention procedure allows Israel to detain people for renewable periods of 6 months without filing charges or a trial. The IDF and other Israeli security forces use the procedure to indefinitely detain Palestinians for “activities that threaten regional security.” 

The IDF arrested Adnan for the 12th time on February 5. This was far from Adnan’s first hunger strike, but it would tragically be his last. Unfortunately, the IDF’s use of administrative detention to repress Palestinian life came to define Adnan’s own life. 

For the past 20 years, the IDF has constantly harassed and arrested Adnan for alleged political activity with the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine. The Jihad Movement is a militant organization dedicated to freeing Palestine from Israel’s apartheid clutches.  From all accounts, Adnan stopped his involvement with the Jihad Movement in 2005 after serving as their spokesperson for five years. 

The IDF and the Palestinian National Authority arrested Adnan five times previously. These detentions and corresponding hunger strikes were relatively short compared to the stint in 2005 and those that followed. The IDF held Adnan for 15 months without charge in 2005. In response, Adnan held a 12-day hunger strike in support of all Palestinian prisoners. This was the beginning of his more prominent hunger strikes against Israeli apartheid. 

In 2011, the IDF arrested Adnan again, even though it was 100% confirmed that Adnan was no longer the Jihad Movement spokesperson. The IDF raided Adnan’s home in the middle of the night and arrested his entire family, including Randa Adnan, who was pregnant, and their young children. One cannot help but be reminded of the Chicago Police Department’s midnight raid that resulted in the execution of Fred Hampton and injury to Akua Njeri, who was pregnant. 

While detained in 2011, IDF soldiers beat Adnan, deprived him of sleep, and made sexual-ladened threats against Randa Adnan. When Randa was finally allowed to visit him in 2012, she found him starved, dirty, and shackled to a hospital bed after a 50-day hunger strike. 

This is the true face of the enemy that the Palestinian people face every day. This is the real Israel – sexism, racism, brutality. The interrogation itself lasted 18 days. At the time of Adnan’s 2011 detention, Israel held over 300 Palestinians in administrative detention, including 21 members of the Palestinian legislative body. 

Through all this, Adnan was never formally charged or tried. Safe to say, even if Adnan organized militant resistance against Israeli forces, he would have been justified. 

Adnan was detained again in 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2021 — every time without charge or trial. And every time, Adnan refused to take the repression quietly. He never stopped fighting for the liberation of all Palestinian people. Hunger strike after hunger strike, many lasting a month or more, Adnan persisted in his cause to stand in solidarity with all political prisoners and demanded an end to Israeli apartheid. 

Mainstream media may call Adnan a terrorist or a dangerous criminal even as he no longer walks this earth. However, the Palestinian people know the truth. Anti-Zionists know the truth. We all know the truth. Adnan was neither a criminal nor a terrorist. He was a liberation fighter. He is now a martyr for the ongoing struggle for Palestinian liberation. That is how we will remember Khader Adnan. 

Khader Adnan presente! Down with Israel! From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!

Lev Koufax is an anti-Zionist Jewish activist.


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