Rallies in Israel, West Bank call for release of Palestinian hunger-striker in coma

Protesters took to streets in northern Israel and the West Bank to show their support for Mohammed Allan, a Palestinian activist, who has fallen into a coma after a two-month hunger strike.

More than 200 people, including members of parliament, joined the protest, which was led by Sheikh Raed Salah, a preacher and activist, who is the leader of the Islamic Movement’s radical northern wing, as reported by France Press Agency.

READ MORE: ‘Impossible to predict response’ if hunger striker Allan dies in Israeli detention

The rally was held in the Wadi Ara valley in northern Israel, which is mainly populated by Arab citizens. Protesters carried Palestinian flags and banners calling for the immediate release of Mohammed Allan, 31. Allan is being held in ‘administrative detention’ that allows Israeli authorities to detain him indefinitely without charge.

RT’s Paula Slier traveled to Ar’ara, Israel to talk to some of the protesters there. She reported that tensions are rising, with protesters gathering on one side of the road and riot police on the other. 

Protesters have been shouting slogans such as: “This is the time for a revolution,” “we want justice,”“Israel is a criminal state,” and “we are not afraid.” 

If things take a turn for the worse for Allan, then the crowd is likely to swell in numbers, Slier reported. “It has all the makings of a huge confrontation, as tensions here are running high,” she said.

Another peaceful demonstration in support of Allan was held in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, where dozens of protesters rallied to demand his immediate release, AFP reports.

Saturday was the second day of protests demonstrating solidarity with Mohammed Allan. About 1,000 had already staged a march on Friday near his hometown in the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

Mohammed Allan, an Islamic Jihad activist, has been detained since last November and went on a hunger strike on June 18. He lost consciousness on Friday at the Barzilai hospital in Ashkelon. He has been given fluids and salts intravenously since that time.

A hospital spokesman said on Saturday that Allan’s condition is stable, although he would be on a respirator until at least Sunday. The International Committee of the Red Cross visited him in the hospital and declared he was “at immediate risk” of death, as reported by i24 News.

The Palestinian group, Islamic Jihad, released a statement on Friday warning that if Allan dies, they would “respond forcefully and will no longer be committed to the ceasefire in Gaza.”

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In the meantime, Israel is strengthening security in several prisons in the country’s south in fear of potential riots. One riot broke out in Shikma prison near Ashkelon on Friday morning, but was quickly brought under control, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Committee reports.

Allan’s father, Nasser, said his son “is determined to continue his hunger strike despite it being life threatening.”

“Now he is in hands of his God and all what we can do is praying to God to protect his life,” he added as quoted by i24 News.

‘Hunger strike’s the only option to resist illegal detentions’

A hunger strike is the only power Allan has Haneen Zoabi, an Arab Member of the Israeli Parliament, told RT at the Ar’ara demonstration. “The political activist has nothing, except his health. So if they are giving him vitamins against his will. This is illegal and a violation of his rights.”

The hunger striker’s lawyer, Jamal Al-Khatin, concurs, saying that he considers what is happening to Allan to be force feeding.

Critics have stated that Palestinians do not have many options for protesting indefinite detention practices, so they are forced to resort to such measures.

“The conditions in the Israeli jails for Palestinians are appalling. Over 5,500 people are in custody in Israel. Over 400 of them, like [Allan] are in administrative detention without charge, evidence. He had no idea why he is in prison because he hasn’t been told,” human rights barrister, Mark McDonald, said.

Jeff Halper from the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions added that no charges have been made and no evidence presented. “The person who is accused has no way to defend himself. There is no lawyer involved. It is an absolute absence of any due process of law. That is why hunger strikes are so important. They are the only weapon that Palestinians have to resist these illegal detentions.”