Jewish, Arab Protesters Clash at Protests Over Palestinian Hunger-striker

Thirteen people arrested outside Barzilai Medical Center, where Mohammed Allaan is hospitalized.

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Clashes in Ashkelon, August 16, 2015.
Clashes in Ashkelon, August 16, 2015.Credit: Ilan Assayag

Violent confrontations broke out on Sunday both at the northern entrance to Ashkelon and at the local hospital where hunger-striking Palestinian administrative detainee Mohammad Allaan is being treated. Police blocked off the main Ashkelon junction and diverted traffic to the coastal city’s southern entrance.

Thirteen Jewish and Arab protesters were arrested during rioting and two required medical attention. The police stopped four busloads of Arab protesters from reaching Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center, where Allaan is hospitalized. Dozens of Arabs who got off the buses clashed with police, who used tear gas and pepper spray. Police said the Arab protesters threw stones and also used pepper spray against police.

Allaan lost consciousness on Friday morning. He is the first Palestinian hunger-striking prisoner whose condition has deteriorated to the point where he is being given fluids intravenously to prevent his death.

About 100 right-wing protesters, including dozens of members of the extremist group Lehava, were waiting for the Arab protesters at the entrance to the hospital. During the protest at the hospital, the car window of a Palestinian journalist was broken by a stone thrown at it.

Anti-Arab extremist Baruch Marzel said during the protest: “We want him [Allaan] to die as quickly as possible and for him to take as many as possible with him.” A local Ashkelon resident said at the scene: “We came here to say that we will not let any Arab take over our country and raise a Palestinian flag here. We’ll be here until the terrorist dies or they take him out of Ashkelon.”

On Saturday, some 300 people gathered in northern Israel's Wadi Ara to protest Allaan's administrative detention. Several Knesset members and leaders of political movements were also in attendance.

The Palestinian Prisoners Club of the Palestinian Authority wrote Barzilai Medical Center on Sunday requesting that Allaan be awakened from a state of induced coma to determine his opinion in light of his medical condition. According to the organization’s statement, Allaan was placed in an induced coma three days ago after he had a seizure and his condition deteriorated.

The organization said that after receiving fluids Allaan’s condition has stabilized and therefore he should be roused. Its representatives said that continued intravenous administration of fluids is being done to keep him stable and constitutes a violation of his decision to undertake a hunger strike.

Barzilai’s director, Dr. Hezi Levy, told Haaretz: “We do what we do purely out of professional considerations. We have at the moment four patients in the hospital in similar condition and they are all receiving the same treatment. There is no pressure for any sort of treatment and any decision is professional and ethical and supported by the Patient’s Rights Law.”

A Palestinian physician working on behalf of the Allaan family has yet to be allowed to enter the hospital and examine him. Levy said that he met with the family physician, adding, “We presented him all of the tests and information with full transparency. He mostly agreed [with us] both on the ethical and medical aspects.” Levy said the doctor would be able to see Allaan “as soon as approval is given by the relevant authorities.”

The Health Ministry is closely monitoring Allaan’s treatment and is in continuous communication with Barzilai’s management. Ministry sources said the purpose of the oversight “is to see that he receives the best treatment according to Patient’s Rights Law. The treatment and the decisions are made by the team treating him, the ministry sources said. Ministry representatives are on the scene from time to time.

Israel Prisons Service and Shin Bet security services are also following Allaan’s condition, as are officials from the Justice Ministry and the Public Security Ministry, due to the assessment that Allaan’s medical condition could have far-reaching implications.

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