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Sabra Express | Hunger Pangs

David Gritten, BBC, May 3rd, 2023


Israel and Palestinian militants agreed to a ceasefire after the death of a Palestinian hunger striker led to a flare-up in violence. More than 100 Palestinian rockets and mortars were fired into Israel while the IDF retaliated by striking sites linked to Hamas.

The Context:

· The prisoner, Khader Adnan, was a senior figure for Islamic Jihad, a terrorist group [1]. Adnan was imprisoned by Israel ten times, and at least twice by the Palestinian Authority (PA). He is the first Palestinian prisoner to die on a hunger strike since 1992 [2].

· Hana Herbst, a spokeswoman for the Israel Prison Service, said Adnan had been taken to a hospital on numerous occasions, but had each time refused medical treatment [3]. The PA described his death as a "deliberate assassination" and Islamic Jihad demanded that Israel return the body for burial.

· Following Adnan’s death, the Iron Dome air defense system intercepted 24 missiles from Gaza, with 48 projectiles landing in open areas in southern Israel and another 14 falling short in Gaza [4]. Israel’s reprisal focused on Hamas’ armament capabilities, including its weapons factories, naval headquarters and underground tunnels [5].

· Citing their own coalition’s “feeble” response to the violence, members of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party announced that they would boycott Knesset votes taking place throughout the day. The move came as its leader, National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, came under increased pressure over rising terror attacks since he assumed power in December after running on a platform of keeping citizens safer [6].

· There are 4,900 Palestinians in Israeli prisons and another 1,016 in "administrative detention", a controversial measure under which suspects are held indefinitely without charge or trial for renewable six-month periods.

Conversation Points:

· Are hunger strikes an effective form of protest?

· What is a country’s responsibility towards hunger striking prisoners?

· Can Israel’s governing coalition survive if its members hold such a disparate range of views?


1. IDF: Gaza terror groups fired 104 projectiles at Israel in daylong flare-up, EMANUEL FABIAN, Times of Israel, May 3rd, 2023.

2. Palestinian Detainee Dies in Israeli Prison After Hunger Strike, Raneen Sawafta, New York Times, May 3rd, 2023.

3. Ibid.

4. IDF: Gaza terror groups fired 104 projectiles at Israel in daylong flare-up, EMANUEL FABIAN, Times of Israel, May 3rd, 2023.

5. IDF struck 16 targets in Gaza overnight in response to 100 rockets, YONAH JEREMY BOB, Jerusalem Post, May 3rd, 2023.

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