Palestinian hunger striker loses consciousness after 60 days

AP News
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Posted: Aug 14, 2015 1:04 PM
Palestinian hunger striker loses consciousness after 60 days

JERUSALEM (AP) — A Palestinian detainee who has been on a hunger strike for 60 days slipped into unconsciousness on Friday and was being treated in the intensive care unit at an Israeli hospital.

Naser Allan told The Associated Press that his son Mohammed, who went on a hunger strike in May, lost consciousness early in the morning and was taken to the ICU at Barzilai hospital in southern Israel where he was hospitalized.

Mohammed Allan was in stable condition and sedated after receiving medical treatment, Dr. Hezy Levy said, adding there was no talk of force feeding.

"After 60 days of fasting the body doesn't get many substances that are vital for the functioning of the critical systems in his body. We knew that, we warned about that, we spoke with the family about that ... but we didn't do anything as long as he expressed his will not to get treatment," Levy said.

Doctors were giving Allan fluids, electrolytes and vitamins after his condition deteriorated Friday morning into loss of consciousness, convulsions and hallucinations. He was sedated and receiving oxygen, Levy said.

Israel recently passed a law that allows a judge to sanction the force-feeding or administration of medical treatment to hunger striking prisoners if there is a threat to the inmate's life, even if the prisoner refuses. But it's still unclear if the contentious procedure will be carried out.

Critics say it is akin to torture and Israel's Medical Association has urged physicians not to cooperate with the measure.

Palestinian prisoners have held rounds of hunger strikes over recent years, which have flared tensions on the streets. Israel fears a hunger striking prisoner's death could spark violence.

"He is determined to continue his hunger strike," despite the risk to his life, Naser Allan said of his son. "Now he is in the hands of God and all we can do is pray to God to protect his life."

The 30-year-old Allan was arrested in November 2014 and detained without charge for two six-month periods, under a measure called administrative detention. The policy allows authorities to hold detainees for months or years without charges. Israel has defended the practice as a necessary tool to stop militant activity.

Israel says he is being held for his activities in the Islamic Jihad, a group which has carried out numerous violent attacks against civilians.

Over the past few years, Palestinian prisoners have staged a series of hunger strikes to protest administrative detention.

Israeli media reported the military heightened its alert after news of Allan's condition spread. A military spokesman refused to comment.

About two hundred Palestinians protested in Jerusalem on Friday in support of the hunger striker.

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Associated Press writer Mohammed Daraghmeh reported from Ramallah, West Bank.

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This story has been corrected to show that the hospital's name is Barzilai, not Barzalai.