A Palestinian prisoner, held by Israel since November without trial, slipped into a coma Friday after a nearly two-month long hunger strike. Mohammed Allaan, a 31-year-old attorney suspected of being a member of the militant Islamic Jihad group, has been placed on an artificial respirator, Al Jazeera reported, citing his lawyer.
Allaan is being held under administrative detention -- a policy that allows Israeli authorities to hold suspects for an extended period of time without trial. Currently, nearly 400 people, including hundreds of Palestinians from the West Bank, are being held by Israel in administrative detention, according to figures released by the Israel Prison Service.
“Unlike a criminal proceeding, administrative detention is not intended to punish the detainee for an offense that has been committed, but to prevent a future offense,” the Israeli human rights group B'tselem, which has frequently criticized the practice, said, in an earlier statement. “This is a violation of international law, which stipulates that administrative detention should be used to prevent future danger.”
Allaan, who has been moved from one hospital to another over the last few months, is currently being held at the Barzilai Medical Center in the city of Ashkelon in southern Israel.
A number of other Palestinian prisoners have also resorted to hunger strikes -- a practice the United Nations has labeled “a fundamental human right” -- to protest their indefinite detention. However, Allaan’s case came under the spotlight last month after the Israeli parliament approved a bill authorizing the force-feeding of prisoners on hunger strike in a move that was widely condemned -- both internationally and within Israel.
The Israeli Medical Association has urged doctors to not abide by the law, terming force-feeding “equivalent to torture.” As a result, Israeli authorities have so far struggled to find doctors who would comply with the law. Even now, medics at the Barzilai Medical Center have refused to force-feed Allaan and are only injecting his body with supplements essential for his survival, Haaretz reported.
“The treatment is being administered according the ethics committee guidelines and includes respiration and intravenous fluids and saline,” the hospital reportedly said, in a statement released Friday.
Meanwhile, protests in support of Allaan have also broken out in the West Bank. Earlier this week, 200 Palestinian protesters reportedly clashed with Israeli right-wingers, who staged a counter-protest near the Barzilai hospital. Several people were detained by police and questioned, according to media reports.