Right-wing lawmakers and ministers reacted furiously Wednesday night to a High Court decision putting on hold Palestinian hunger striker Mohammed Allaan’s status as an administrative detainee.
Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev accused court judges of setting a dangerous precedent that would lead to the release of other security prisoners being held in Israel, while Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan criticized the Israeli Medical Association for publicly objecting to force-feeding Allaan.
“The High Court gave in to the blackmail of terrorist Mohammed Allaan instead of applying the [force-feeding] law,” Regev wrote in a Facebook post, referring to new Israeli legislation permitting the controversial procedure in case of imminent danger to a patient’s life.
“Thousands of terrorists are now setting their sights to Mohammed Allaan. Allaan is a suicide bomber willing to die for the freedom of his murderer friends. Allaan is the inventor of a new suicide method on the altar of Israel’s values of justice and humanity,” she continued. “The ruling of the justices opens a dangerous gate and effectively enables the release of hundreds of prisoners who will rise and imitate [Allaan] on their way to the long-awaited release.”
Allaan, 31, was protesting his incarceration under administrative detention — an Israeli legal term for imprisonment without trial on terrorism charges — for alleged affiliation with the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization.
Referring to medical tests which showed Allaan had suffered brain damage and thus did not pose a threat to Israel’s security, Regev stated that the court’s decisions should not be based on prisoner’s medical conditions, but on the nature of the offenses they had allegedly committed.
“The question at hand should not be whether he is dangerous or not, but how serious the actions and intentions of the terrorist, and of course what will be the implications of this [ruling].”
Erdan, for his part, directed his criticism at the Israeli Medical Association for choosing not to defy an ethical code prohibiting them from force-feeding Palestinian hunger strikers, and specifically singled out the association’s chairman Leonid Eidelman, who, the minister claimed, had threatened doctors not to implement the controversial procedure.
“The decision on the release of the terrorist Allaan was mainly driven first and foremost by the stance of the Israeli Medical Association, led by Dr. Eidelman, not to treat hunger striking terrorists until they have lost consciousness or in a case of fear of irreversible damage,” Erdan wrote in a Facebook post.
“Throughout the period of his hospitalization, Dr. Eidelman demanded and threatened doctors not to follow the [law] despite the decisions of the ethics committee of the hospital,” he added.
“It is time the Israeli Medical Association and its leader respect the law instead of taking actions that eventually led to the release of terrorists.”
Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben Dahan of the Jewish Home party said the court ruling proved to the Palestinians that terrorism was an effective means of fighting the Israeli establishment. “The High Court’s decision [on Allaan] show the Palestinians that you can beat us with terror and hunger strikes,” Ben Dahan said.
Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel lamented the turn of events that led to the court decision and told Army Radio that Allaan should have been force fed. He also stated that Israel is too casual in its use of administrative detention, a measure he said should only be used for specific urgent cases of a “ticking bomb” — a situation where vital information is need to prevent an imminent attack.
Ariel noted that he intends to campaign to “change these things through common sense.”
Meanwhile, opposition leader and Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for caving in to Allaan’s demands, and accused Netanyahu of “negotiating with terrorists.”
“Mr. Terror has became Dr. Cowardice, negotiating with a terrorist on hunger strike in hospital, only because he could not make a leadership decision on what to do,” Herzog said in reference to Netanyahu, the Walla news site reported. “There is no prime minister who negotiated with Hamas terrorists more than Netanyahu. It is not Allaan’s condition that is irreversible, it is Netanyahu who brought Israel’s deterrent capabilities to an irreversible situation when facing the terrorists in prison,” he concluded.
In contrast with the harsh criticism, Joint (Arab) List MK Hanin Zoabi welcomed the ruling, labeling it as an “important victory for Mohammed Allaan.” Zoabi stressed, however, that the court ruling was only a step towards the release of the hundreds of other administrative detainees being held in Israeli prisons.
“This is an important victory for Mohammed, but the struggle is not over,” Zoabi said, according to the Maariv news site. “We must keep in mind the additional 400 administrative detainees, and continue to fight for thier freedom.”
After the court’s ruling was made public, Allaan’s family said that he had ended his 64-day hunger strike begun in protest at his administrative detention by Israel, Channel 2 reported. Allaan’s health had deteriorated Wednesday night, and he was again sedated. Medical tests showed that Allaan suffered brain damage due to vitamin deficiency, although it was not immediately clear whether the damage was reversible.
The Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, where Allaan will remain hospitalized due to his condition, said earlier Wednesday that Allaan was in a confused state and not responsive to his surroundings. The statement said that he was continuing to receive medical treatment for damage sustained due to his two-month hunger strike.
The state said during a High Court meeting Wednesday that Israel would release Allaan if medical tests showed he had suffered irreversible brain damage. Israel has reasoned that lasting brain damage would prevent Allaan from returning to the alleged activities for which he was detained, Israeli website Ynet reported.
Several Palestinians have gone on hunger strike in recent years to protest administrative detention, with a number managing to wrest their freedom or better conditions from Israeli authorities.
Times of Israel staff and AFP contributed to this report.