Pales­tinian hunger striker re­gains con­scious­ness


A Pales­tinian on a two-month hunger strike re­gained con­scious­ness Thurs­day fol­low­ing a med­i­cally in­duced coma as de­bate raged over a de­ci­sion by Is­rael’s top court to sus­pend his de­ten­tion with­out trial.

The High Court’s rul­ing on Wed­nes­day sparked crit­i­cism from Pales­tinian ac­tivists who said it had come too late and Is­raeli min­is­ters claim­ing judges had given in to “black­mail.”

Mo­hammed Allan’s case has cap­tured the at­ten­tion of both the Is­raeli and Pales­tinian public, while putting the Jewish state un­der in­creas­ing pres­sure as the 31-year-old’s health wors­ened.

Is­lamic Ji­had says that Allan, a lawyer from the West Bank, is a mem­ber of the Pales­tinian mil­i­tant move­ment, as does Is­rael.

He has been held since Novem­ber in a form of in­tern­ment known as ad­min­is­tra­tive de­ten­tion, which was tem­po­rar­ily lifted by Wed­nes­day’s rul­ing.

How­ever, the court said he must re­main in hos­pi­tal pend­ing a fi­nal de­ci­sion on his case.

Is­raeli pros­e­cu­tors told the court they would re­lease him if he were found to have ir­re­versible brain dam­age, but the rul­ing left open the ques­tion of what would hap­pen if or when his health im­proves.

The hos­pi­tal where he was be­ing treated in Ashkelon in south­ern Is­rael said Thurs­day that Allan had re­gained con­scious­ness and was be­ing in­formed of the court’s de­ci­sion.

Doc­tors had placed Allan in a coma due to his de­te­ri­o­rat­ing con­di­tion on Wed­nes­day be­fore the court’s rul­ing.

He was said to be suf­fer­ing brain dam­age, ap­par­ently due to a vi­ta­min de­fi­ciency caused by his hunger strike, though it was un­clear whether the dam­age was per­ma­nent.

“Now he’s awake. He’s very weak,” Dr Chezy Levy, the di­rec­tor of Barzi­lai hos­pi­tal, told jour­nal­ists. “He started to speak with those next to him.”

Asked whether Allan had bro­ken his hunger strike, which be­gan on June 18, Levy said “not yet.”

“Now we are telling him what hap­pened and what were the le­gal de­ci­sions yesterday, in or­der to con­vince him to start to get some flu­ids and some sugar through his stom­ach and in­testines in or­der to grad­u­ally start to feed him nor­mally.”

It was the sec­ond time Allan had been in a coma since last week. He had slipped into a coma Fri­day, prompt­ing doc­tors to give him flu­ids, vi­ta­mins and min­er­als in­tra­venously and to place him on a res­pi­ra­tor.

His con­di­tion im­proved, and by Tues­day he was con­scious and taken off the res­pi­ra­tor. He had pledged to re­sume his hunger strike and even stop in­gest­ing wa­ter if his case were not re­solved, Pales­tinian ac­tivists sup­port­ing his cause said.

‘Brink of death’

Adalah, a rights group that pe­ti­tioned the court for Allan’s re­lease, said judges should have acted on the re­quest when it was first filed on Au­gust 17.

“The court may have ac­cepted the pe­ti­tion but this oc­curred af­ter Mo­hammed Allan’s case be­came ex­tremely cruel and in­hu­mane, and brought him to the brink of death,” a state­ment said.

But mem­bers of Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu’s right-wing gov­ern­ment saw the rul­ing as ca­pit­u­lat­ing to a hunger strike they view as “black­mail.”


Ma­zoza Allan, mother of Pales­tinian hunger striker Mo­hammed Allan re­acts to an Is­rael Supreme Court de­ci­sion out­side Barzi­lai hos­pi­tal in Ashkelon, south­ern, Is­rael, Wed­nes­day, Aug. 19.

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