Palestinian Prisoner Ends Hunger Strike After Court Freezes Administrative Detention

Those close to Mohammed Allaan, who lost consciousness after 60 days on hunger strike, say he has been informed of significance of court decision, and decided to end the strike.

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Mohammed Allaan's mother, Mazuza Allaan, at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon.Credit: Ilan Assayag

Palestinian prisoner Mohammed Allaan ended his hunger strike on Thursday after the Israeli High Court issued a decision freezing his administrative detention order, his lawyers told Haaretz.

Allaan was informed of the significance of the High Court's decision Thursday afternoon and he decided to end his hunger strike - in accordance with his medical needs, according to Sawsan Zaher of Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.

Allaan's attorney Jamil Khatib confirmed to Haaretz that Allaan had ended the hunger strike, but that he has not yet started eating again normally because of his medical condition. Khatib said the family plans on transferring him to hospital in Nablus when his condition allows it.

Allaan had been on a hunger strike for over 60 days, in protest of his detention without trial and without charge.

Israel's High Court froze the administrative order for the detention of Allaan on Wednesday evening. According to the court ruling, Allaan will remain in the intensive care unit at the Barzilai Medical Center, and if it is discovered that he suffered neurological damage, the administrative order would be revoked altogether.

Palestinian and Israeli-Arab protestors hold posters of Mohammed Allaan. August 9, 2015.Credit: AFP

Allaan, a 33-year-old attorney from the village of Einabus in the West Bank, was put in administrative detention for six months in November 2014. The detention has since been extended. He was arrested after Israeli security services received information that he was allegedly involved in terrorist activities with Islamic Jihad operatives. Security officials said the intelligence against Allaan, who has previously served time for enlisting suicide bombers and assisting wanted persons, was of considerable scope and "serious."

Still unable to eat

His mother Mazuza Allaan, told Haaretz on Thursday evening that her son is still unable to eat and drink through his mouth, and is receiving liquids intravenously. "I visited him a short time ago and asked the doctors when they would allow me to feed him," and they told her she would have to wait another day or two.  

"As far as we are concerned now, he is a person that was freed and therefore there is no reason that he cannot return to us and be healthy, but we will need to wait a few more days in order to understand exactly what his condition is," she said.

Allaan's condition deteriorated on Wednesday, and doctors decided to put him under full sedation again. On Wednesday morning, Allaan was again put into an induced coma after displaying additional signs of brain damage, including confusion and incoherence, which was subsequently confirmed by an MRI.

His condition is currently stable. He is hospitalized in Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center, after being moved from the intensive care unit in Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva, where he was brought in critical condition.

Allaan has agreed to accept any medical treatment necessary to restore the damage to his health caused by his lengthy hunger strike. He is being given liquids and medicine intravenously to try to restore his deficiencies of electrolytes, primarily sodium and potassium, and vitamins, especially thiamine (B1). Lack of the former can cause serious heart problems, while lack of the latter can cause neurological damage.

The next step is to gradually get his digestive system accustomed to handling food again – first liquid food in small doses, then very soft foods, and finally solid foods. It’s not clear how long this process will take.

The court's order does not release Allaan from administrative detention – it simply freezes the order for the period of his treatment. When his condition stabilizes, Allaan may petition authorities to be transferred to another hospital. The response to that will be at the discretion of the court.

The High Court's ruling is a compromise. On the one hand, the judges froze the order, fearing criticism against the Israeli judicial system should Allaan die while under administrative detention. On the other hand, the judges haven't revoked the order completely so as not to signal surrender to the hunger strike.