Historic Hunger Strikes: Lightning in the Skies of Palestine by Richard Falk
There is ongoing militant expression of Palestinian resistance to the
abuses of Israel’s 45 years of occupation and de facto annexation of the
West Bank and East Jerusalem, and five year blockade of Gaza taking the
form of a series of hunger strikes. Recourse to this desperate tactic
of courageous self-sacrifice is an extreme form of nonviolence, and
should whenever and wherever it occurs be given close attention.
Palestinians have protested by hunger strikes in the past but failed to
inspire the imagination of the wider Palestinian community or shake the
confidence of Israeli officialdom. Despite the averted gaze of the West,
especially here in North America, there are some signs that this time
the hunger strikes have crossed a historic threshold of no return.
These strikes started by the individual exploit of a single person,
Khader Adnan, at the end of 2011.
Dragged from his home in the village
of Arraba near Jenin by a night raid by dozens of Israeli soldiers,
humiliated and roughed up in the presence of his two and four year old
daughter, carried away shackled and blindfolded, roughly interrogated,
and then made subject to an administrative decree for the eighth time in
his young life, Adnan’s inner conscience must have screamed ‘Enough!’
and he embarked on an open-ended hunger strike. He continued it for 66
days, and agreed to take food again only after the Israeli authorities
relented somewhat, including a pledge not to subject Adnan to a further
period of administrative detention unless further incriminating evidence
came to the surface. Upon release, Adnan to depersonalize his ordeal
insisted on visiting the families of other Palestinians currently under
administrative detention before returning to his own home.
He has spoken out with firm gentleness and invited persons of
conscience everywhere to join in the struggle to induce Israel to
abandon administrative detention, and the accompanying violations of
Palestinian human rights. Khader Adnan’s open letter to the people of
the world is reproduced below to convey the tone and substance of his