Blind, nearly deaf and suffering searing chest pains, Palestinian hunger striker Mohammad Allan regained consciousness Tuesday in an Israeli hospital and agreed to medical care for the first time in two months while his lawyers haggle with the state over his release.
Barzilai Medical Center director Dr. Chezy Levy said Allan was breathing without a respirator and was receiving an intravenous infusion of minerals after a weekend under anesthesia.
Allan, a 31-year-old lawyer from the West Bank village of Ainabus, suffered seizures and lost consciousness Friday on the 60th day of refusing solid food to protest his detention without charges by Israeli authorities. Israel has said the practice, known as administrative detention is vital to protecting its network of informants.
Israel claims Allan conducted militant activity as a member of the Islamic Jihad movement but has not revealed its evidence. Allan previously served a 30-month sentence beginning in 2006 for militant activities, his lawyer Jamil Khatib said.
Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners have used hunger strikes to secure early release or better conditions in incarceration, and as Allan’s health deteriorated during his hunger strike, Israel passed a law in July that would allow force-feeding of prisoners to limit their leverage.
We told him we need him conscious to update him and so that he can agree to or refuse an offer. He agreed to remain conscious until tomorrow.
Jamil Khatib, lawyer
But two teams of Israeli doctors refused to take the steps needed to force-feed Allan, saying to do so would violate medical ethics, and Allan declined all medical treatment until he fainted Friday.
Khatib said Allan remains in precarious condition. He said that the prisoner’s hearing is so compromised that he had to shout as they discussed the case.
Allan’s current six-month administrative detention ends in November; however, Israeli courts can extend the detention indefinitely. Khatib said Allan insists on being released by Sept. 23, the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday. Israeli prosecutors previously offered to release Allan immediately into a four-year exile, which he refused.
Khatib said Allan agreed to 24 hours of ongoing medical treatment while his lawyers negotiate. Israel’s Supreme Court is scheduled to hear Allan’s case Wednesday afternoon.
“We told him we need him conscious to update him and so that he can agree to or refuse an offer,” Khatib said. “Therefore he agreed to remain conscious until tomorrow.”
Few visitors to the hospital see Allan because he is under heavy security. A prison guard paced the door to the Intensive Care Unit; more guards kept watch inside the ward.
Allan’s mother, Mazouza Odeh, slumped against a wall of the sweltering hospital in exhaustion, her black leather clogs off her socked feed. Odeh, from the West Bank village of Ainabus, slept in the hospital for the past week but said she saw her son for only 15 minutes.
On Tuesday, she spoke to a visiting aide to Haneen Zoabi, a lawmaker with the Joint List Arab faction in Parliament, and worried that doctors were flowing salts and minerals into her son against his will.
“Did he agree to the treatment?” Odeh asked the aide.
Khatib said if the Israeli government and Supreme Court refuse to release Allan by late September, the prisoner will resume his hunger strike and refuse all medical treatment and water, which would cause his health to plummet.
A senior Israeli official said Monday, “you cannot have a situation that every threat of a hunger strike gives every terrorist behind bars a get out of jail free card. It’s unsustainable.”
The official spoke on condition of anonymity. Asked how Israel could avoid releasing Allan early while doctors refused to force-feed him, the official seemed to be at a loss. “We as a government in the framework of democracy, we will put our position on the table,” he said.
Cheslow is a McClatchy special correspondent.