Court suspends detention when Palestinian hunger-striker found with brain-damage

Palestinian prisoner Allan ends his 65 day hunger strike after Israel’s High Court of Justice freed him from administrative detention because of deteriorating medical condition.



Palestinian prisoner Muhammad Allan ended his 65-day hunger strike Wednesday after the High Court of Justice freed him from his administrative detention due to his deteriorating medical condition, his lawyer said.


A handout supporting a Palestinian hunger striker. – Photo: Courtesy

“The story is over, administrative detention is canceled and therefore there is no strike,” Jameel Khatib told Reuters.

The High Court of Justice late Wednesday night made the decision after the revelation Wednesday afternoon that his brain had been damaged.

Allan, 31, has been on the hunger-strike in protest of his detention by Israeli security forces who have yet to charge him with a crime.

High Court Vice President Elyakim Rubinstein, Hanan Melcer and Neal Hendel held that due to his health situation, Allan’s family members could visit him on an unrestricted basis, as if he was not a detainee.

Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev reacted with indignation Wednesday evening after learning of the Israeli Supreme Court’s decision to release Allan.

“Allan is a suicide bomber willing to die for the freedom of killers,” Regev said. “The Court gave into blackmail…instead of applying the law.”

Despite the ruling, the High Court left Allan’s ultimate fate somewhat open, stating that if Allan wishes to transfer to another hospital or otherwise leave custody at some point, he will need to seek the permission of the state.

That recipe could easily find either Allan or the state petitioning the High Court again over his situation if and when he recovers, though the state may also cut its losses, since it had already offered to free him in November.


The decision followed a flurry of developments and more developments morphing the story-line throughout the day of a saga which has transfixed the country and many global players in recent weeks.

With his potential release in the balance most of the day, supporters of Allan and the state late Wednesday disputed the extent of his apparent brain damage from lack of food.

Earlier Wednesday, doctors treating Allan confirmed that the suspected Islamic Jihad activist has brain damage after subjecting him to an MRI.

Barzilai Medical Center Director Dr. Hezi Levy said it was not initially clear whether the brain damage was permanent.

Shortly after Levy made his announcement, it had appeared in the afternoon that a High Court hearing — weighing a petition calling for Allan’s release — failed to come to a decision after the state said it would free him if it was proven that he was suffering from irreversible brain damage, but disputed whether that point had been reached.

At Wednesday’s High Court hearing, state attorney Yochi Ginsin told the court, “At Tel Hashomer Medical Center…they did not evaluate the findings [regarding Allan’s brain damage] the same as Barzilai [Medical Center] evaluated – the picture is not unambiguous regarding whether there is brain damage or not.”

Pressed by the justices, Ginsin said that while Allan’s cognitive activity was clearly impaired, it was unclear whether the impairment “was irreversible or reversible, and if it was reversible, how long it would take him to return to normal.”

At the same hearing, Dr, Daniel Ya’acobson gave a very nuanced description of Allan’s condition.

“There is damage…some of the symptoms seem to be reversible and some seem to be irreversible….use of his eyes…could return in a few days, his inability to speak and his disconnect from his surroundings, this could take months,” said Ya’acobson.

Allan’s lawyer Kamal Naatur noted, “there is no doubt that there is damage, and even if he returns to being himself, this will take months, as we just heard in the courtroom.”

He added, “It is very unfortunate that we arrived at this point that there is a human being with damage which could be substantial” and which could have been avoided if he was not in detention.

Melcer shot back, “this is not as a result of his detention, sir. There is damage as a result of his hunger-strike which he undertook.”

Naatur responded that the legality of the administrative detention was a core in dispute.

Prior to the hearing, the state offered to release the hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner in early November if he agrees to end his life-threatening protest.

According to Allan’s attorneys, the state made the offer just before Wednesday’s planned hearing before the High Court of Justice.

Ahead of the High Court ruling, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan wrote on Twitter that “it’s absurd to petition demanding to release a person because of their health condition, which was self-inflicted.”

Erdan argued that releasing Allan would set a dangerous precedent and create a new tool for Palestinian security prisoners to use in their protests against Israel, and in order to secure concessions.

“If Allan is released it will lead to a mass hunger strike among security prisoners and would be a new weapon in the hands of terrorists.”

Naatur had told Army Radio earlier Wednesday that he will recommend to his client to accept the state’s offer.

“I think that under these circumstances, this offer is realistic and it would be best for him to accept it,” he said. “This is the offer that I expected to receive, but I can’t predict, given his condition, whether he will accept it or not.”

“I think that the offer will be acceptable to the members of Knesset from the Joint List,” Natur said.

Allan regained consciousness on Tuesday and informed the state that he was rejecting its prior offer to free him if he agreed to deportation for at least four years.

He has been on a hunger strike for 65 days and was taken off of a respirator earlier on Tuesday morning as his condition steadily improved at that time.

Ben Hartman, Reuters, & Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.

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