News Release

End of a Palestinian Hunger Strike Sheds Light on “Lawless Captivity”


AP reports: “A Palestinian prisoner agreed to end his 66-day hunger strike to protest his imprisonment without charge after reaching a deal with Israel that will free him in April, the Israeli Justice Ministry said Tuesday.”

RICHARD FALK, rfalk at
Just back in the U.S. from the Mideast, Falk is available for a limited number of interviews. He is the UN special rapporteur on Palestinian human rights and just wrote the piece “Saving Khader Adnan’s Life and Legacy,” which states: “It is a great relief to those millions around the world who were moved to prayer and action by Khader Adnan’s extraordinary hunger strike of 66 days that has ended due to Israel’s agreement to release him on April 17. …

“While it is appropriate to celebrate this ending of the strike as ‘a victory,’ there are several disturbing features that deserve comment. To call an arrangement that saved someone’s life a ‘deal,’ as the media consistently put it, is itself demeaning, and reveals at the very least a failure to appreciate the gravity and deep dedication of purpose that is bound up with such a nonviolent form of resistance.

“Similarly, the carelessness of the initial reactions was notable, often referring to Mr. Adnan’s ‘release’ when in fact he will be still held in administrative detention for several more weeks, and could conceivably be confined much longer, should Israeli military authorities unilaterally decide that “substantial evidence” against him emerges in this period immediately ahead. It should be noted that on matters of principle, Israel gave not an inch: even in relation to Mr. Adnan, he will remain in captivity and will be subject to the “legal” possibility that his period of imprisonment could be extended indefinitely; beyond this, Israeli authorities conceded no intention whatsoever to review the cases of the 309 other Palestinians who are presently being held under the administrative detention procedure. …

“What was entirely missing from the Israeli public discourse was some expression of compassion, even if only for the family of Mr. Adnan, which consists of two daughters of four years or younger and his articulate pregnant wife, Randa. There was not even the slightest show of respect for the dignity of Mr. Adnan’s long hunger strike or sympathy for the acute suffering that accompanies such a determined foregoing of food for an extended period.

“Instead, the Israeli commentary that was at all favorable to the arrangement stressed purely pragmatic factors. It was one more lost opportunity for Israelis of all shades of opinion to reach across the abyss of political conflict to affirm a common humanity. In contrast, the spokesperson for the Netanyahu government, Mark Regev, was only interested in deflecting criticism aimed at Israel. He parried criticism by cynically observing that other governments use administrative detention in the name of security, including the United States, and that the legality of Israel’s use of administrative detention should not be questioned as it depends on a 1946 law enacted when Britain was controlling Palestine, implying not inaccurately that Israel was the ‘colonial’ successor to the British! …

“A fitting tribute to Mr. Adnan’s hunger strike would be to put opposition to administrative detention on the top of the human rights agenda throughout the world. We should begin by refusing to use the phrase ‘administrative detention,’ rechristening it as ‘administrative torture’ or ‘lawless captivity.'”

Falk is Albert G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and Visiting Distinguished Professor in Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has authored and edited numerous publications spanning a period of five decades, most recently editing the volume “International Law and the Third World: Reshaping Justice.”

See “Pundits Waiting for a Palestinian Gandhi? Meet Khader Adnan” by Peter Hart.