A Palestinian hunger striker whose deteriorating health has posed a challenge to Israel’s policy of indefinite incarceration had agreed to give up his fast, one of his lawyers said Thursday as doctors said his condition had improved significantly.
The end of the fast by the hunger striker, Mohammad Allan, came a day after Israel’s Supreme Court temporarily suspended the administrative detention order he was protesting. The lawyer, Jamil Khatib, said by telephone that he had explained the meaning of the court decision to Mr. Allan, who remains hospitalized after two-months without food, and that his client had agreed to end his hunger strike.
“He is released, so there is no point in continuing it,” Mr. Khatib said.
Ahmad Tibi, an Arab member of Israel’s Parliament and a physician who has been closely involved in Mr. Allan’s case, said that Mr. Allan was receiving nutrients intraveneously.
Ayelet Kedar, a spokeswoman for the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, Israel, where Mr. Allan is being treated, said that he was receiving “all the medical treatment he needs in order to recover.” Mr. Allan is unable to eat regular food in his weakened condition.
A doctor at the center, Dr. Hezi Levy, said on Thursday that Mr. Allan was showing “great improvement” and that he had been taken off a respirator and was beginning to communicate with those around him. “Medically speaking, he is on the right path,” Dr. Levy said.
Mr. Allan, a 31-year-old lawyer and a member of the Palestinian extremist group Islamic Jihad, who had not eaten since June 16, saw his health worsen as Israel’s Parliament passed a contentious law last month allowing the force-feeding of hunger strikers. The law was not applied in Mr. Allan’s case, in part because the state could not find a doctor willing to begin the process.
Mr. Allan has been protesting his incarceration by Israel since last November under the system known as administrative detention, in which suspects can be held without public charges or trial for six-month terms that can be renewed indefinitely.
Israel faced a difficult choice of capitulating to Mr. Allan’s demand to be put on trial or released, a move that critics said would encourage more detainees to go on hunger strike. If he died during his fast, Israeli authorities risked Palestinian protests and violence.
On Wednesday, before the court ruling that cleared the way for his temporary release, a medical examination found that Mr. Allan had suffered brain damage because of his fast, although it was not clear if the damage was permanent. The court ruled to suspend the administrative detention order on grounds that Mr. Allan posed no security threat given his medical state.
Sawsan Zaher, a lawyer with Adalah, an Arab-rights group that pressed Mr. Allan’s appeal, said she did not want to speculate about what might happen if Mr. Allan recovers and Israel decides to detain him again under the administrative detention order, which was scheduled to expire in November. “It is better to wait and see when he recovers and how and what condition he will be in,” she said.
Conservative Israelis reacted furiously to the Supreme Court decision. Zeev Elkin, a minister from the Likud Party, described it as “outrageous.”
“Having the court state that a person on a hunger strike needs to be freed is a very problematic statement,” he told Army Radio.
Palestinian reaction to the court ruling was mixed and even contradictory. Jawad Bulos, the director of the legal department at the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, described the court decision as “negative,” telling Voice of Palestine radio that the decision meant that if Mr. Allan recovered, the administrative detention warrant could be enforced again.
Issa Qaraqe, the Palestinian minister for prisoner affairs, told the same radio station that Mr. Allan had won his battle and that the court ruling was “a triumph” for the Palestinian people.
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(via NY Times)