(Arraba) A senior leader of the Palestinian Islamist movement Islamic Jihad died on Tuesday after more than 80 days of hunger strike in an Israeli prison, shortly before rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel.
Khader Adnane, 45, had been imprisoned numerous times by Israel and had already gone on four hunger strikes, becoming a symbol for Palestinians.
The Israeli prison administration announced in a press release the death of a prisoner affiliated with Islamic Jihad, “ found unconscious in his cell ” and then hospitalized.
Physicians for Human Rights Israel recently visited him and called for his “immediate” hospitalization, saying his life was in danger.
“ Khader Adnane has chosen the hunger strike as a last resort, a non-violent way to protest against the oppression to which he and his people are subjected”, reacted the organization on Tuesday.
During a press conference at their home in Arraba, in the northern occupied West Bank, his wife Randa Moussa declared that his death was a “pride”.
On Friday, she told AFP that his conditions of detention were “ very difficult ” and that Israel had refused to transfer him to a civilian hospital and allow his lawyer to visit.
“We don’t want a drop of blood to be shed, we don’t want anyone to respond to the martyrdom of Sheikh (Adnane), we don’t want anyone to fire rockets and hit Gaza from the continued,” she said on Tuesday.
At dawn, three rockets and a mortar shell were fired from Gaza into Israel, falling in wasteland or near the border fence, the Israeli military said.
The shootings were not immediately claimed.
After the announcement of the death, the Islamic Jihad, an organization considered “terrorist” by Israel, the United States and the European Union, affirmed that Israel “will pay the price for this crime”.
“If the Palestinian people had not had people like Sheikh Khader, our cause would not have had an echo,” said its leader, Ziad al-Nakhalé, hailing a “powerful and honorable” death.
In August 2022, three days of clashes between Israel and Islamic Jihad caused the death of 49 Palestinians, including 12 members of Islamic Jihad according to the movement, and at least 19 children according to the UN. About 200 rockets were fired by Islamic Jihad from Gaza into Israel, injuring three.
On Tuesday morning, Palestinian traders closed their shops in the West Bank, responding to a call for a general strike, AFP journalists noted.
In the north of this Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967, an Israeli was injured by shards of glass and two vehicles damaged by gunfire, according to the Israeli army, which is looking for suspects.
Khader Adnane began his hunger strike as soon as his incarceration began on February 5, the prison administration said, saying he “refused to undergo medical examinations and receive treatment”.
He had been charged for his involvement in Islamic Jihad and for speeches inciting violence in support of a hostile organization, an Israeli official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The military appeals court had rejected his request for release, according to this source.
Palestinian prisoners have already succumbed to force-feeding, but Adnane is the first to die from a hunger strike, Palestinian Prisoners Club president Qaddoura Fares told AFP.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh accused Israel of having “murdered” Adnane “by rejecting his calls to release him, neglecting him medically and keeping him in his cell despite the seriousness of his state of health”.
In a letter released on April 1 by the Prisoners’ Club, Adnane wrote: “I send you these words as my flesh and fat have melted, my bones are necrotic and my strength has diminished […]. I pray that God will accept me as a dedicated martyr.”