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Israel Releases Palestinian Hunger Striker Who Was Detained Without Trial

Mohammed Allan, a Palestinian lawyer and member of Islamic Jihad who nearly died during a two-month fast while in prison, was freed this afternoon.

by Reuters and VICE News
Nov 4 2015, 5:00pm

Photo by Mahmoud Illean/AP

Israeli authorities released Palestinian lawyer Mohammed Allan from prison today, according to the radio station Kol Yisrael. The 31-year-old's case drew international attention over the summer, when he nearly died during a two-month hunger strike against his detention. He was being held without the right to due process.

Israel was holding Allan, a member of the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad, under the controversial policy of "administrative detention" since November 2014. The policy allows prisoners to be detained indefinitely without trial, subject to court renewal every six months. It is frequently used against Palestinian terror suspects when there is insufficient evidence to try the individual in a regular court.

Allan began his hunger strike in June. He sustained his fast until he fell into a coma 60 days later, on August 14. Near death, Allan was admitted to a hospital for treatment and his detention was temporarily suspended after it was determined that he had suffered brain damage as a result of the strike. Upon his return to prison in September after his condition improved, Allan briefly resumed his strike before ending it two days later.

Related: Palestinian Hunger Striker Loses Consciousness, Testing Israel's 'Unethical' Force-Feeding Law

Palestinian prisoners have frequently used hunger strikes to protest against their treatment within Israel's justice system. Proponents of administrative detention insist that the policy is necessary for national security, and have called the hunger strikes a "new form of terror against the state." Palestinians and human rights groups continue to protest the policy and call for the release of the some 370 other Palestinian detainees currently being held under it.

Shin Bet, Israel's security agency, said that Allan "was in contact with an Islamic Jihad terrorist" before his arrest and was planning to carry out large-scale attacks. He was previously charged with seeking to recruit suicide bombers and abetting suspected Palestinian terrorists, and he was imprisoned between 2006 and 2009.

His hunger strike was seen as a test of Israel's new force-feeding law, which the country's medical association has condemned as a violation of ethics and international conventions. Doctors said that was not a viable option in Allan's case because of his grave condition.

In August, supporters of Allan clashed with Israeli right-wingers near the hospital where he was being held. Israel has long been concerned that hunger strikes by Palestinians in its jails could end in deaths and trigger waves of protests in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.