by Nathan Stuckey
14 February 2012 | International Solidarity Movement, West Bank
Two months ago, few of us knew the name Khader Adnan. Today, he is an inspiration to all of us. Two months ago he was kidnapped from his home by Israel. He was charged with no crime. He was abused by his captors and interrogators from the moment he was arrested. None of this is unusual in Palestine, every day people are kidnapped from their homes, abused, and held without charge. Torture is a routine matter for prisoners of the occupation. None of the abuse that Israel inflicted on Khader Adnan was new, it has happened to thousands, really hundreds of thousands of Palestinians under the occupation.
It was all so routine that no one would bother to report on it, that is a specialty of the occupation, to make crimes so routine that they are not news. Khader Adnan, a thirty three year old Palestinian baker, stood up, he said no. He is willing to give his life for dignity; a life without dignity is not life. Khader Adnan has been on hunger strike for 59 days, he lies near death in an Israeli hospital chained to his bed. He has still not been charged with any crime.
Khader Adnan is not striking only for himself, as he said, “I hereby assert that I am confronting the occupiers not for my own sake as an individual, but for the sake of thousands of prisoners who are being deprived of their simplest human rights while the world and international community look on.”
He could die at any time.
Protests have been held to support him around the world. Hundreds of Palestinians have joined hunger strikes in solidarity with him. Today, in Beit Hanoun, we marched in solidarity with him. We gathered by the half destroyed Beit Hanoun Agricultural College, we passed out posters of Khader Adnan, we raised the Palestinian flag, and we set off into the buffer zone. Above us were three Israel Apaches, a drone, and an observation balloon, in front of us was a giant concrete wall with towers full of soldiers, and a jeep and a tank on a hill.
This did not deter us. Israel has a history of shooting missiles into demonstrations and shooting live ammunition into unarmed demonstrations is a regular occurrence, especially in Gaza. We marched down the road into the no go zone.
The no go zone is a place of death. Israel has forced out everyone who used to live there, it has destroyed their houses, bulldozed their orchards, and now it claims the right to shoot anyone who enters it. The land is scarred by the blades of bulldozers, by the tracks of tanks. We marched across it, toward Erez, toward the wall that surrounds Gaza, toward the wall that reminds us all that Gaza is a giant prison. We walked until we were about 50 meters from the wall.
Khader Adnan’s wife called us, she thanked us for our support, and described her husband’s suffering, “He is chained to a bed, he is in constant pain, he looks like a ghost. Still he does not give up.”
Sabur Zaaneen from the Beit Hanoun Local Initiative spoke, “Israel does not respect human rights, the crimes of the occupation are unending, but so will be our resistance to the occupation, the popular resistance will continue until the end of the occupation.” We chanted our support for Khader, for a man willing to die to live in honor, for a man willing to give his life for his people’s right to live in honor, for a man willing to give his life in his struggle against the occupation.
After the demonstration Sabur received a call from the Palestinian police at the Erez crossing. The Israeli army had called them threatening to fire on the demonstration unless we left the area. They threatened to fire on an unarmed demonstration in support of a man who has been on hunger strike for 59 days, a man who could die at any moment, a man who has not even been charged with any crime. Just as 800,000 Palestinians were forced from their land in 1948 today Israel threatens unarmed demonstrators on their land with death unless they leave their land.
Just as Khader Adnan is steadfast in his hunger strike, we will be steadfast in our resistance to the occupation, like him, we struggle for a life of dignity, a dignity denied by the occupation. Khader Adnan is our hero; his steadfastness is an inspiration to all of us.
Thank you Khader Adnan.
Nathan Stuckey is a volunteer with International Solidarity Movement.