Palestinian Prisoner Loses Consciousness 60 Days Into Hunger Strike

Mohammed Allaan is hospitalized at Ashkelon's Barzilai Medical Center, where doctors say Allaan will not be force-fed unless his life is in immediate danger.

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Protestors supporting Allaan outside Soroka Medical Center, August 9, 2010.
Protestors supporting Allaan outside Soroka Medical Center, August 9, 2010.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Palestinian prisoner Mohammed Allaan, currently on day 60 of a hunger strike, lost consciousness Friday morning at Ashkelon's Barzilai Medical Center and is currently on a respirator.

According to Palestinian reports, Allaan's health has significantly deteriorated and his life is in immediate danger. The Palestinian Prisoners Society said that Allaan had a seizure late Thursday night, and the hospital - currently in touch with the Red Cross - will check in several hours if he has suffered brain damage.

According to Barzilai Medical Center, Allaan was transferred to the hospital on Thursday in stable condition and there was no immediate danger to his life at the time. In fact, the respirator is the first medical procedure performed on Allaan since he's been under the care of Israeli hospitals.

Allaan is the first Palestinian hunger striking prisoner whose condition has deteriorated to the point where mechanical ventilation has been required.

Two previous prominent hunger strikes, held by Khader Adnan and Samer Issawi, were ended by the strikers in a state of malaise after a deal leading to their respective releases from administrative detention was reached.

Israeli MKs Ahmed Tibi and Osama Saadi (Joint Arab List) arrived in Allaan's hospital room early Friday afternoon and called on Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon to releasehim immediately.

"There is no justification to continue the administrative detention of a patient dying in intensive care. Allaan must be released immediately to prevent a harsh chain reaction in the Palestinian street and throughout the whole world.

Following reports of Allaan's deterioration, they called for demonstrations throughout the West Bank on his behalf. A solidarity march in Allaan's honor took place in front of the Al-Aqsa mosque, where demonstrators waved Palestinian flags and held up pictures of Allaan, as well as signs protesting administrative detention.

The Palestinian Prisoners' Society also called on prisoners in every Israeli prison to plan to take appropriate steps to demonstrate in the event of Allaan's death. Prisoner leaders responded by announcing plans to revolt.

Haaretz has learned that negotiators on Allaan's behalf held talks with the military prosecutor regarding his release from administrative detention, but failed to secure an end to the hunger strike.

According to a Palestinian source involved in the matter, Israel firmly opposed Allaan's release, especially after the agreement reached between the state and Adnan.

According to the source, Israel fears that such a move could encourage administrative detainees to follow Allaan's lead, especially after seven Palestinian detainees began their own respective hunger strikes over the past two weeks.

On Thursday, Israel's Prison Service Thursday denied a request to free Allaan due to his rapidly deteriorating health.

Allaan, a 33-year-old attorney who has been jailed without trial and without being charged with any offense for over nine months, has been on a hunger strike for 60 days. 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, from the village of Einabus, south of Nablus, was transferred by prison authorities from Soroka’s intensive care unit, where doctors refused to force-feed him, to Barzilai on Monday. Authorities apparently believed the doctors at Barzilai would be willing to force-feed him.

However, Barzilai’s director Dr. Hezi Levy said Allaan would not be force-fed unless his life was in immediate danger.

Allaan’s lawyer, Abeer Baker, said Allaan was having trouble speaking, his sight was deteriorating and he had difficulty identifying his visitors. Allaan has refused to receive medical treatment or vitamins and because he is not thought to be in mortal danger, the doctors would not force him to accept it.

Baker cited the International Red Cross organization, which described Allaan’s condition as critical and “at immediate risk of death.” She noted that the parole law enables to release a prisoner at any time on the basis of a doctor’s opinion, or if the prisoner’s condition has reached a stage of disorientation.

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