JVP: Mohammed Allaan and the Right to Hunger Strike

In this photo made on Tuesday, August 11, 2015, Israeli Arab supporters of Mohammed Allan, a Palestinian prisoner on a hunger strike, hold signs during a support rally outside Barzilai hospital, in the costal city of Ashkelon Israel. Israel passed a law to force feed hunger strikers by a slim margin in July and elicited harsh criticism. Critics call force-feeding an unethical violation of patient autonomy and akin to torture. The Israeli Medical Association, which has urged physicians not to cooperate, is challenging the law in the Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)


A hunger strike is a protest of the last resort. In a country that purports to be democratic, no prisoner should have to resort to a life-threatening hunger strike in order to receive a trial. Yet, this is exactly what Mohammed Allaan, Khader Adnan, and hundreds of other Palestinian political prisoners have had to do in order to protest arbitrary and indefinite detention without charge in Israel.

The urgent health crisis faced by Palestinian prisoner Mohammed Allaan, coming just after the passage of a law allowing the force feeding of hunger striking prisoners, highlights the endemic use of administrative detention policy to punish political activists and the conscience-shocking practice of force-feeding that has recently been legalized by the Israeli parliament.

The refusal of doctors in the Barzilai Hospital in Israel to comply with the new force feeding law passed on July 30 by the Israeli Parliament should be lauded, as should the decision by the Israeli Medical Association to call force feeding what it is: Torture.

By force feeding hunger striking prisoners, the state strips away the one mode of non-violent protest left for Palestinian political prisoners. International law regards hunger striking as a non-violent method of resistance and the United Nations, World Medical Association and other global legal bodies have determined that force feeding is torture. The policies of administrative detention and of force feeding hunger striking prisoners must end immediately. We call on the international community, and the US government in particular to use their leverage to demand the end to such unconscionable practices.

On August 14th, Palestinian prisoner Mohammed Allaan, who has been on hunger strike for over 60 days, slipped into a coma. On Monday a petition before the Israeli High Court was postponed, following Mr. Allaan’s rejection of the Israeli demand that he be exiled from his country in exchange for his release. As Mr. Allaan’s health deteriorates extremely rapidly, the High Court postponed a decision on his release until August 19th–a likely death sentence.

According to Palestinian prisoner’s rights group Addameer, over 400 Palestinians are currently being held in administrative detention, including 164 children under the age of 18. Administrative detention is a policy of political control in which detainees are arrested and held indefinitely without charge or indictment based on secret information. Prisoners are subject to medical negligence, mistreatment by prison guards,  solitary confinement and isolation, and lack access to education.

Following the arson attack by Jewish Israeli settlers on the Dawabsha family on July 31, the Shin Bet authorized the extension of the policy of administrative detention to apply to Jewish Israelis. Administrative detention is a fundamentally anti-democratic practice, and its application against Jews and Palestinians alike is an unacceptable expansion of the Israeli police state at the expense of the basic democratic rights of both its own citizens and the Palestinians subject to its jurisdiction by force.


TAKE ACTION: Samidoun, The Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network


the Wire

Stay up to date on the most important news from Palestine and the Palestine solidarity movement, and receive action alerts and invitations to online events.