Israel releases long-term Palestinian hunger striker

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Palestinian prisoner being held in Israel, who undertook a 65-day hunger strike to protest his incarceration, was released.

Muhammad Allaan was released from prison late on Wednesday night, after spending a year in administrative attention. Under administrative detention, a prisoner can be held for six months without being charged or tried. The order can be renewed indefinitely.

Allaan began a hunger strike in June, after seven months in administrative detention, to protest being held without charges or a trial.  He ended his hunger strike in August after Israel’s Supreme Court suspended, but did not cancel, his administrative detention order over his declining health due to the hunger strike. Allaan reportedly suffered brain damage from the hunger strike; it was unclear whether the damage was reversible.

He was jailed again in mid-September after being released from the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, in southern Israel, and restarted his hunger strike, abandoning it after two days due to health concerns. An Israeli military court at the time said he would be released at the end of the current six-month administrative detention order, if he refrained from additional hunger strikes.

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Following his release on Wednesday, Allaan was taken to a hospital in Tulkarem for a medical checkup and then allowed to return to his home near Nablus, the Palestinian Maan news agency reported.

He thanked his supporters saying that the Palestinian people “proved that they have not forgotten the Palestinian prisoners. Their steadfastness gave me strength and proved to the enemy that there are no differences between our people no matter where they are. It proves to them that Haifa is Tulkarem, Jerusalem is Nablus, and Gaza and the West Bank are one body,” the Jerusalem Post reported.

His hunger strike prompted Israel to pass legislation last month permitting force-feeding. The Israeli Medical Association has said it plans to challenge the law in the Supreme Court and urged physicians not to comply with it. Doctors in two Israeli hospitals refused to perform tests on and provide nutrition to Allaan without his consent.

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