Friday 20 July 2018

Palestinian detainee ends hunger strike in Israel

Relatives of Mohammed Allan wait outside Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon, southern Israel. (AP)
Relatives of Mohammed Allan wait outside Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon, southern Israel. (AP)

A Palestinian detainee on hunger strike has ended his protest a day after Israel's leading court suspended his detention, his lawyer said.

Lawyer Jamil Khatib confirmed Mohammed Allan had ended his fast at Barzilai Hospital in southern Israel.

Israel's Supreme Court on Wednesday suspended a detention order against Allan, who launched the hunger strike more than two months ago to protest against his detention.

Israeli doctor Hezy Levy said Allan was showing "great improvement" and he was taken off a respirator.

Israel says Allan is a member of the Islamic Jihad militant group. He denies the allegation.

Allan's 66-day hunger strike tested a new Israeli law allowing force-feeding, which has been criticised by many doctors who say the practice amounts to torture.

It also cast light on Israel's use of administrative detention, the holding of suspects for long periods without charge or trial.

Allan regained consciousness on Monday and is said to have suffered brain damage as a result of the hunger strike.

Mr Khatib told reporters the 31-year-old's condition remained serious but stable.

It could take several weeks to know the extent of the damage he sustained as a result of the prolonged fast, Mr Khatib said.

"We took him off the respirator. He's no longer sedated," Dr Levy said. "He is starting to communicate and I am happy that medically he is on the right path."

Dr Levy added that he hoped Allan would soon start eating again on his own. His body cannot yet process food after such a prolonged fast.

Allan began his fast to protest against the Israeli policy of administrative detention, which allows authorities to hold suspects for months without charge or trial.

Israel defends the practice as a necessary tool to stop militant attacks and argues that revealing the charges would expose intelligence networks and put lives in danger. Rights groups say the measure violates due process, is meant only for extraordinary cases, and is overused.

Press Association

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