Hundreds of protesters gathered on Saturday on Wadi Ara road, near the Iron Interchange in northern Israel, calling for an “intifada in Israeli prisons” if a Palestinian inmate, who has been on hunger strike for over 60 days, dies.
Protesters waved Palestinian flags and placards with photos of suspected Islamic Jihad member Mohammed Allaan, and yelled slogans such as “Israel is a terror state,” according to Channel 2.
Allaan lost consciousness on Friday at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, as he entered the 60th day of his hunger strike. He is protesting being held without trial under special anti-terror rules called “administrative detention,” which allow indefinite incarceration as a preventative measure when intelligence points to terror activities.
Doctors succeeded in stabilizing Allaan and he is being treated intravenously. A statement from the hospital said Allaan “is being treated in accordance with the guidelines of the Ethics Committee. A message [regarding the patient’s condition] was transferred to the Red Cross, which sent representatives to the hospital, and to the patient’s lawyer.”
Allaan, a lawyer by profession, has been held by Israel since last November on suspicion of terror activities and membership in the Islamic Jihad terror group.
Protesters in support of Allaan on Saturday called for an intifada “in all [Israeli] prisons,” while others advocated kidnapping Israeli soldiers to be used as bargaining chips in future prisoner exchanges. The protest was led by Sheikh Raed Salah, a radical preacher who heads the Islamic Movement’s northern wing.
According to Ynet, some chants like “There’s nothing quite like killing soldiers and cops,” were heard at the protest as Arab-Israeli Knesset members were in attendance. Among the MKs present were Ahmad Tibi, Hanin Zoabi, Jamal Zahalka, Youssef Jabarin and Osama Sa’adi, all from the Joint Arab List.
MKs Tibi and Sa’adi made an urgent request to the attorney-general, asking to release Allaan on humanitarian grounds: “There is no justification to continue the administrative detention of a dying patient in the intensive care unit.” They added that his death would start a domino effect of harsh responses among the Palestinians and all over the world.
In the southern West Bank city of Hebron dozens of demonstrators also held a rally for Allaan, holding his picture and demanding his immediate release, an AFP reporter said.
Islamic Jihad in Gaza threatened to “respond with great force” if the prisoner dies in Israeli custody and said his death would release the group from commitment to any ceasefire with Israel.
Police officers arrived to disperse the protest near Wadi Ara, having anticipated riots after Allaan lost consciousness on Friday.
Allaan was treated on Friday for the first time since being placed in the hospital. The government tried to legislate force-feeding for hunger-striking prisoners who are in life-threatening condition. The medical establishment in Israel, however, strongly opposes such legislation on ethical grounds, as well as on medical grounds, saying that force-feeding prisoners who have been fasting for months may present a potentially life-threatening shock to their systems.
Allaan was in jail in the past, but was rearrested in November at the request of the Shin Bet security services. According to the Shin Bet, Allaan was in touch with Islamic Jihad forces and was planning to assist the group in the execution of large-scale terror attacks.
According to the law, a district court judge can approve the force-feeding of a prisoner at risk only when a doctor confirmed that continuing the hunger strike poses real risk to the prisoner, including systemic damage that cannot be undone.
The law mandates the minimal amount of treatment necessary to keep an inmate alive, even if he opposes the procedure, so long as court approval is available. It also states that doctors refusing to force-feed prisoners for ethical reasons will not be prosecuted.