A Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader has died in Israeli custody after an 87-day hunger strike, authorities said.
Khader Adnan, who was awaiting trial, was found unconscious in his cell and taken to a hospital, where he was declared dead on Tuesday, May 2, after efforts to revive him, Israel’s Prisons Service said. He had refused any medical assessments or treatment, it added.
The leader in the militant Islamic Jihad group, had begun staging protracted hunger strikes more than a decade ago, introducing a new form of protest against Israel’s mass detentions of Palestinians without charges or trials.
On Tuesday, the 45-year-old, who leaves behind nine children, became the first long-term hunger striker to die in Israeli custody.
Palestinians called for a general strike in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and protests were expected later in the day.
Palestinian militants responded by firing a volley of rockets from Gaza toward empty fields in Israel, while Islamic Jihad said in a statement that ‘our fight continues and will not stop.’
Adnan’s death comes as Israel is led by its most right-wing government ever.
Prisons and Palestinian prisoners are overseen by Cabinet minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, an ultra-nationalist politician who previously tightened restrictions on the Palestinian inmates, including shortening their shower time and closing prison bakeries.
Ben-Gvir said Tuesday that prison officials must exhibit ‘zero-tolerance toward hunger strikes and unrest in security prisons’ and ordered prisoners be confined to their cells.