Palestinian detainee Khader Adnan, an Islamic Jihad commander who became a symbol of Palestinian resistance to Israeli detention policies, died Tuesday after 87 days of hunger strike, authorities said.
Adnan, 45, had been on hunger strike since his arrest on February 5, and while in detention he refused to get medical checks, the Israeli Prison Service said in a statement announcing his death.
He was found dead in his cell early Tuesday following his almost 3-month hunger strike, the prison service added.
The Palestinian Prisoners Society also announced Adnan’s death, saying “the Israeli occupation assassinated Sheikh Khader Adnan.”
He was detained in February on suspicion of membership in a terrorist organization, support for terrorism and incitement, Israeli authorities said. He had not been tried at the time of his death.
Islamic Jihad said on Tuesday that “Commander Khader Adnan rose as a martyr in a crime for which the Zionist occupation bears full and direct responsibility.”
The Iranian-backed Palestinian militant group is responsible for the killings of scores of people in Israel in suicide bombings and rocket attacks.
Following news of his death, Palestinian political parties announced a general strike in the West Bank Tuesday in mourning for Adnan, with the shuttering of schools, universities and shops.
Adnan was from Jenin in the occupied West Bank.
There were also reports of three rocket launches from the Gaza Strip toward Israeli territory, which landed in open areas, according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). No interceptors were launched, the IDF said, but sirens rang out in the area of Sa’ad, a kibbutz in the Negev desert in southern Israel.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh accused Israel of carrying out a “deliberate assassination… by refusing his request to release him, neglecting him medically and keeping him in his cell despite the seriousness of his health condition.”
Adnan first gained international attention for a 66-day hunger strike that ended in February 2012, which was at the time the longest known hunger strike by a Palestinian detainee in Israeli prisons.
According to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, he has been arrested at least 11 times since 2004 and held five hunger strikes. In 2015, he went on hunger strike for 55 days before Israeli authorities released him.
Adnan spent a total of eight years in Israeli jails, mostly under administrative detention, a controversial Israeli military procedure that allows authorities to hold detainees indefinitely on security grounds. The process also allows for detention based on secret evidence, and there is no requirement to charge the detainees or to allow them to stand trial.
His hunger strikes from jail became a rallying cry for Palestinians, who staged multiple rallies of support in the West Bank and Gaza.
Israel has 4,900 Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons, with 1,000 of them being held in administrative detention without charge – the highest number since 2003, according to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society.