Activists rally around Palestinian prisoner as Israel sets up emergency force-feeding ward

Palestinian prisoner Mohammed Allan could become the first person to be forcibly fed after Israel recently authorized the practice for inmates on hunger strike.

Allan’s lawyer says his client, who has not eaten for almost 60 days, is “very frail,” and the process could “kill him.” Israel is currently setting up a special ward to implement the force-feeding.

Allan has been kept under arrest and in administrative detention since November, despite not having been charged with any offense. He has been on hunger strike for 57 days as of Monday, refusing medicine and vitamins and only taking water.

Israel now wants to force feed the 30-year-old, however Issa Qaraque, head of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Committee and helping Allan with his legal position, says forcing his client to eat could make the situation a lot worse.

“He could die even without the force-feeding. His health is very frail and if this regulation is applied to him, it could kill him. He will endure immense suffering,” Qaraque told RT.

Amid Allan said his brother “is in a very bad state.” He also mentioned that “force-feeding him would be the equivalent to murdering the prisoner.”

Allan was recently taken into intensive care at the Soroka Medical Center, having been placed there when his body became unable to absorb drinking water.

Force feeding has been condemned by numerous human rights organizations for being inhumane. The feeding process involves a person being strapped to a chair, before special tubes are inserted through the nostril and pushed down towards the stomach.

On Saturday, the UN released a statement saying that peaceful protests such as hunger strikes by Palestinian prisoners are “a fundamental human right.”

Mohammed’s father, Naser Allan says he and his son’s well-wishers have been trying to contact the authorities about the detainee’s grave condition and plans to force-feed him. In an interview with RT, he said the requests are falling on deaf ears.

“We are communicating with people on all levels, with the Palestinian Authority, NGOs, medical agencies, international agencies, the Red Cross and the UN. We knocked on all the doors, but were met with deaf ears by the prison’s administration and the local government. However, they always offer me the option to agree to the force-feeding operation, which is an intentional and brutal execution,” Nasar Allan told RT.

The International Red Cross warned on Friday that Allan was “at immediate risk” of death after going without food for almost two months, in a statement made on their website.

The organization also mentioned that Israel is in breach of the Geneva Convention by not allowing Allan’s family to visit him. The last time his relatives were permitted to come into contact with him during his detention was on March 22. 

“I am 68 years old. My son is in an intensive care unit facing a slow death. When I tried to visit him, they took my identification and said I was banned from entering for security reasons,” Naser Allan told RT. “Look at me, what does it look like I am carrying on me?” 

Force-feeding law approved

The Israeli parliament passed a bill that allows the force-feeding of Palestinian prisoners who resort to hunger strikes to protest their administrative detention without charge on July 30. The 120-seat Knesset approved the controversial law, with 46 legislators in favor and 40 against it.

When the bill was put before the Knesset last year, it draw criticism from the Israeli Medical Association, which said that force-feeding amounts to torture and encouraged Israeli medics not to participate in such procedures. 

It seems as though some hospitals in Israel are heeding this advice, as doctors at the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba refused to treat Allan.

“Members of the Knesset must not be allowed to turn the hospitals into prisons. A populist-aggressive legislation along the lines of “if they don’t eat, we will force them to,” is not the solution,” Dr. Tami Karni, the head of the Ethics Bureau of the Israel Medical Association told Israeli TV channel, i24.

However, it would seem Israeli is determined to make sure that Allan is force feed, with i24 reporting that he has been transported to Barzilai Hospital in the coastal town of Ashkelon on Monday morning as the director of the medical facility is willing to undertake force feeding, which the vast majority of Israeli doctors are opposed to. 

On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman said the Israeli Prison Service would set up a special emergency room at its medical center to force-feed hunger striking Palestinian prisoners, according to Channel 2.

READ MORE: ‘If Israel force-feeds prisoners, protests will become louder’ – HRW

Sarah Saadoun, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, spoke to RT, saying that the Israeli government’s instance that Palestinian prisoners are force-feed could in fact help to advertise the plight they are facing under administrative detention.

She believes that Israel wants to make an example of Allan, after they released Khader Adnan on July 12, after he went on a 55-day hunger strike.

“The minister of public security made a statement that this law is intended to avoid having prisoners use hunger striking as a way of getting out of prison. So it very much comes within the context of the recent hunger strikes,” she said. 

Israel’s new approach towards protesting prisoners mirrors that of the US, which force-feeds terror suspects held at the Guantanamo Bay military prison. The practice was criticized by rights groups, but US officials insist it is needed to prevent the prisoners from harming themselves with ‘non-religious fasting’, as the hunger strikes are termed.