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Israel: UN experts demand accountability for death of Khader Adnan and mass arbitrary detention of Palestinians

03 May 2023

GENEVA (3 May 2023) – The death of Palestinian hunger striker Khader Adnan must be accounted for, UN experts* said today, calling Israel’s mass arbitrary detention of Palestinians “cruel” and “inhumane.”

The 45-year-old Palestinian prisoner died in his prison cell on Tuesday morning after a hunger strike that spanned nearly three months. He was protesting Israel’s widespread policy of arbitrarily detaining Palestinians against fair trial guarantees and in abhorrent conditions.

Khader Adnan went on hunger strike shortly after he was last arrested on 5 February 2023 by Israeli authorities on terrorism-related charges. Despite the serious deterioration of his health, Israeli authorities refused to release Adnan or transfer him to hospital, and continued to detain him in a prison hospital facility, reportedly without providing adequate health care. The experts noted that Khader Adnan was arrested at least 12 times in the past, spent around eight years in prison, mostly in administrative detention, and went on hunger strike five times.

“The death of Khader Adnan is a tragic testament to Israel’s cruel and inhumane detention policy and practices, as well as the international community’s failure to hold Israel accountable in the face of callous illegalities perpetrated against Palestinians,” the experts said.  

Israel currently holds approximately 4900 Palestinians in its prisons, including 1016 administrative detainees who are held for an indefinite period without trial or charge, based on secret information. The number of administrative detainees in Israeli detention facilities is at its highest since 2008, despite repeated condemnation from international human rights bodies and recommendations for Israel to immediately end the practice. In recent years, many Palestinian prisoners have resorted to hunger strikes to protest the brutality of Israel’s detention practices.

“We cannot separate Israel’s carceral policies from the colonial nature of its occupation, intended to control and subjugate all Palestinians in the territory Israel wants to control,” the UN experts said. “The systematic practice of administrative detention, is tantamount to a war crime of wilfully depriving protected persons of the rights of fair and regular trial.”

The experts said it was ever more urgent for the international community to hold Israel accountable for its illegal acts in the occupied territory and stop the normalisation of war crimes that have become a daily reality in the lives of Palestinians.

“How many more lives will have to be lost, before an inch of justice can be delivered in the occupied Palestinian territory?” they said.


The experts:Francesca Albanese, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967; Tlaleng Mofokeng, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Pages: Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel

For more information and media requests, please contact Junko Tadaki (+41 22 917 9298, [email protected]) or Sarah Jacquier Nobel ([email protected])

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts, please contact Maya Derouaz ([email protected]) Dharisha Indraguptha ([email protected])

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