At least 15 people were arrested in demonstrations in the southern coastal city of Ashkelon Sunday evening over the fate of Palestinian hunger striker Mohammed Allaan. Two people were lightly injured.
Police were deployed in force at Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center to separate some 200 Jewish and Arab protesters.
Arab supporters of Allaan — who is in critical condition after 61 days without solid food — called for his immediate release from Israeli detention.
Activists from a second demonstration, held by far-right Jewish demonstrators, clashed with those from the opposing Arab rally.
The demonstration called by far-right Jewish activists, including prominent lawyer Itamar Ben-Gvir, was joined later Sunday evening by some Ashkelon residents. Demonstrators shouted “Death to Arabs.”
The arrests were made from both sides. One of those arrested at the Jewish demonstration was reportedly a local minor.
Three buses of Arab Israelis were stopped by police at Ashkelon Junction, the southern entrance to the city, to prevent them from joining the demonstrations outside Barzilai. The passengers clashed with police, throwing rocks and rioting at the highway intersection. Police responded with tear gas and arrested several rioters.
By late evening, police said they had brought the demonstrations under control. They said they were braced for more protests Monday.
Allaan has been held by Israel without trial since November under a special anti-terror measure called “administrative detention.” He is allegedly affiliated with the Islamic Jihad terror group, and Israeli intelligence claims he played a role in the group’s activities.
On Friday, 59 days into his hunger strike demanding to be released or put on trial, Allaan lost consciousness. In an appeal to the High Court of Justice on Sunday, his lawyer said his life is in danger.
Earlier Sunday, a Palestinian doctor, Dr. Hani Abedin, was prevented by the Israel Prison Service guards from seeing Allaan. According to the Maariv news site, Abedin coordinated his visit with Barzilai officials and was set to visit Allaan together with Joint (Arab) List MK Ahmad Tibi, who is also a doctor.
According to Tibi, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally intervened to prevent the visit. It was an “inexplicable political decision,” Tibi said.