Lawyer on hunger strike becomes new face of Palestinian resistance

Exile offered to Palestinian detainee on hunger strike
Exile offered to Palestinian detainee on hunger strike

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Story highlights

  • Mohammed Allan, hunger striker, regains consciousness on Tuesday
  • 31-year-old lawyer has been on a hunger strike since mid-June
  • His refusal to eat casts a new light on Israel's force-feeding law

(CNN)Palestinian resistance now has a new face -- that of Mohammed Allan, who has been on a hunger strike in an Israeli prison since mid-June.

Allan, who had been in a medically induced coma, regained consciousness on Tuesday, according to a spokeswoman for Barzilai Hospital, where Allan is being held.
    "Today, there was an improvement in the condition of Mohammed Allan," the spokeswoman said. "Doctors stopped the anesthesia and respirator. The patient is conscious and communicates, and he continues to receive essential medical treatment."
    Israel has held Allan, a 31-year-old lawyer, on administrative detention since November 2014, with neither charge nor trial, on suspicion of involvement in terrorism and of membership in the militant Islamic Jihad -- a claim his lawyer and his family deny.
    In protest, Allan began a hunger strike in June, only drinking water.
    His strike was aimed at his administrative detention, which allows Israel to hold someone for security reasons for renewable six-month periods. Allan wants to be charged, to be released, or to die.
    Addameer, a Palestinian prisoner advocacy group, says more than 400 Palestinians are being held in administrative detention, and hunger strikes have been a common way to protest the detentions.

    A new spotlight on force-feeding law

    The Israeli Medical Association says more than 1,000 protesters have gone on hunger strikes over the past several years.
    But Allan's refusal to eat has put a spotlight on Israel's new force-feeding law.
    This law, passed in July by the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, allows the government to force-feed hunger strikers if their lives are in danger.
    The new law has been criticized both inside and outside the country.
    The United Nations has called the law a "cause for concern." And the Israeli Medical Association has called force-feeding "equivalent to torture," urging Israeli doctors not to comply.
    Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations have also called force-feeding a form of torture.
    Allan was initially held in a hospital in Beer Sheba but was moved to a different hospital when doctors there refused to force-feed him.

    Medically induced coma

    His new hospital, in Ashkelon, also refused to force-feed him, but it gave him water, salts and vitamins through an IV after he had a seizure and lost consciousness last weekend on the 60th day of his hunger strike.
    Doctors put him in a medically induced coma to stabilize his condition.
    Almost every day, Palestinians have held solidarity protests outside the hospital in Ashkelon. There have been additional protests in Israel, Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.
    Allan's mother was last allowed to visit him Friday, said his lawyer, Jamil al-Khateeb. Hani Abdeen, a Palestinian doctor, was not allowed to examine Allan in the intensive care unit, al-Khateeb said, even after getting permission from the hospital's director and the prison authority.
    Abdeen was, however, allowed to see Allan's medical records, al-Khateeb said.
    One of Allan's lawyers said he had conferred with his client on Tuesday.
    "Mohammed Allan is very, very weak," the lawyer, Hassan Jabareen, said.
    "He is out of the induced coma and he has spoken to his lawyers, and his demands remain the same," Jabareen said. "He demands to be released immediately without any condition. He has agreed until tomorrow morning to continue with the same treatment keeping the IV in place and to continue with the hunger strike. He agreed to continue with this until tomorrow morning in order to give his lawyers time to reach an agreement with the state to release him."