Israel suspends detention of hunger striker
Muhammed Allaan has been on a 64-day hunger strike in protest of his administrative detention by Israel. (AFP/File)
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In light of Palestinian hunger striker Mohammed Allaan’s worsening medical condition, his status as an administrative detainee will be put on hold, the High Court ruled Wednesday, a move that could pave the way for the prisoner’s release from Israeli prison.
The court added that Allaan’s family will not be restricted from visiting him at the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, where he will remain hospitalized due to his condition.
After the court’s ruling was made public, Allaan’s family said that he had ended his hunger strike, Channel 2 reported.
Medical tests showed that Allaan suffered brain damage due to vitamin deficiency, after waging a 64-day hunger strike to protest his administrative detention by Israel. Reports were conflicting as to whether the damage was reversible.
The hospital said that while Allaan was conscious, he was in a confused state and not responding to his surroundings. The statement said that he was continuing to receive medical treatment for injuries sustained as a result of his hunger strike.
The state said during a High Court meeting Wednesday that Israel would release Allaan if medical tests showed he had suffered irreversible brain damage. Israel has reasoned that lasting brain damage would prevent Allaan from returning to the alleged activities for which he was detained, Israeli website Ynet reported.
Allaan, 31, is protesting his incarceration under administrative detention — an Israeli legal term for imprisonment without trial on terrorism charges — for alleged affiliation with the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization.
Qadura Fares, head of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, told The Times of Israel on Wednesday that a sharp deterioration in Allaan’s condition required his immediate release from jail, rebuffing a reported Israeli proposal to refrain from extending his administrative detention come November.
“He’s stopped communicating with his environment,” Fares told The Times of Israel. “He just stares. It seems like his brain function has deteriorated.”
Allaan emerged from a coma Tuesday and warned he would step up his fast by not drinking water if Israel did not resolve his case within 24 hours, the Palestinian Prisoners Club said.
Allaan’s attorney said Tuesday that his client was no longer of sound mind, and demanded his immediate release.
“The only scenario he will accept is his immediate release,” lawyer Jamal Hatib told Army Radio. “He knows that the continuation of his hunger strike is a death sentence for him, and he’s willing to do it anyway.”
State prosecutors on Wednesday offered to refrain from extending Allaan’s detention past his November release date if he ended the hunger strike immediately, his lawyers said.
Israel had previously offered to release Allaan on condition that he leave the country for four years, an offer which was immediately rejected by his lawyers, who demanded that he be released before September 22, the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.
“‘I’ll continue — either I’ll die or I’ll return home,’” Allaan told his brother, the sibling recounted to Army Radio.
Several demonstrations in support of Allaan have been held since his condition began to deteriorate over the past two weeks, with pro-Palestinian protesters facing off against right-wing Israeli counter-protesters and Israeli police in sometimes violent confrontations.
Israel passed a controversial law last month allowing authorities to force-feed hunger-striking prisoners, but doctors at Barzilai and elsewhere have said they will refuse to comply with the directive.
Several Palestinians have gone on hunger strike in recent years to protest administrative detention, with a number managing to wrest their freedom or better conditions from Israeli authorities.
By Josefin Dolsten and Adiv Sterman
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