WASHINGTON — On Friday, Palestinian political prisoner Mohammad Allan slipped into a coma after staging hunger strike in an Israeli prison for the previous 59 days. He has been put on life support at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, Israel.
Samidoun reported on Wednesday that about 560 prisoners throughout Israel are taking action against mistreatment and abuse by the country’s prison authorities. These prisoners have reported violent raids, transfers and poor conditions.
“[T]he prisoners intend to collectively escalate their protests over the next month. Their current protest actions include boycotting domestic work in the cells, refusing to answer to security checks or roll call, refusing to distribute meals and refusing to meet or deal with wardens,” th Palestinian prisoner solidarity organization reported.
Early Friday morning, Allan was reported to have been suffering from constant shivering and seizures, and he was unable to breath before he lost consciousness, according to Addameer, a prisoner support and human rights association for Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli and Palestinian prisons.
“Doctors then intervened urgently in light of Allan’s medical condition and proceeded to resuscitate him, placed him on a life supporting respirator and administered minerals and nutrients to his body. Allan remains in an unstable and critical condition,” Addameer reported.
Allan, a 31-year-old lawyer from Nablus, began his hunger strike on June 16 to protest the renewal of his status as an administrative detainee, a type of detention that allows Israel to arrest and detain people without charging them with a crime, giving them a trial, or providing access to counsel. Allan has been held without charge or trial since November 2014.
At the end of June, 370 Palestinians were under administrative detention in Israeli prisons, according to B’tselem, an Israeli human rights group.
The Israeli Prison Service declared a state of alert following the announcement of Allan’s condition, reported Ma’an news agency, the largest independent TV, radio and online media group in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Issa Qaraqe, the head of the Palestinian Authority Prisoners’ Committee, told Ma’an “that the Israeli Prison Service had imposed a complete curfew in Israel’s Ramon, Nafha, Negev and Eshel jails.”
Allen may become the first Palestinian political prisoner to be force-fed under Israel’s controversial new law allowing the practice, which was enacted on July 30.
Thus far, however, members of the Israeli Medical Association have refused to force-feed hunger strikers, saying the practice constitutes torture.
An IMA report released last year states: “According to the IMA position, forced feeding is equivalent to torture and every physician has the right to refuse to force feed a hunger striker against his or her will. In addition, forced feeding is not without its own set of risks and may itself harm the hunger striker.”
IMA chairman Leonid Eidelman recently clarified the position while speaking with Al-Jazeera. He said, “Anyone who has seen how [force-feeding] is performed on one who is conscience (sic) and one who is opposed to and fighting it,” will agree that the practice constitutes “torture.”
The Qatari news agency reported that, according to Eidelman, there only two ways doctors would give Allan treatment: “If Allaan (sic) gives up his hunger strike and allows it, or if he loses consciousness.”
“Doctors are ready to resuscitate him if he loses conscience (sic),” he said.
According to Samidoun, four other Palestinians currently being detained by Israel are holding hunger strikes as well. They include Musa Sufan, who has been on a hunger strike since July 18, and is demanding adequate cancer treatment and family visits; Fathi al-Khatib, who has been on hunger strike for since July 21 for having been denied family visits; Abdul Majid Khdeirat, who has been on hunger strike since Aug. 1 in protest of his detention, as he was part of the Wafa al-Ahrar prisoner exchange in October 2011; and Othman Abu Aram, who has been on hunger strike since July 29 to protest an upcoming prison transfer.