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As Controversy of New Force-Feeding Law Lingers, Israel Suspends Detention of Palestinian Hunger Striker

Palestinian women take part in a demonstration in a mock cage to support Palestinian detainees on hunger strike. (Photo: Joe Catron/flickr/cc)

Israel's Supreme Court on Wednesday suspended the administrative detention of Palestinian hunger striker Mohammad Allan.

Allan slipped into a coma last week after 60 days on hunger strike, and doctors say he has suffered brain damage.

He awoke from the coma on Tuesday, and pledged to resume the hunger strike and refuse water if Israel did not resolve his case within 24 hours.

"Due to the petitioner's medical condition he will remain in intensive care," the court ruling, issued late Wednesday, said. "This means that for now, owing to the hunger striker's medical condition, the administrative detention order is no longer operative."

As the Guardian points out, the court's ruling doesn't fully free Allan; rather, it "temporarily suspend[s] his detention without charge, and rul[es] he could apply again for release if and when his condition improves." Further, the Associated Press adds, the ruling "did little to resolve a debate over Israel's controversial practice of holding suspects without charge, or a new law permitting force feeding of hunger strikers." That new law has been criticized as providing "a legislative foundation for torture."

CNN offers this background on the case: 

Israel has held Allan, a 31-year-old lawyer, on administrative detention since November 2014, with neither charge nor trial, on suspicion of involvement in terrorism and of membership in the militant Islamic Jihad -- a claim his lawyer and his family deny. In protest, Allan began a hunger strike in June, only drinking water. His strike was aimed at his administrative detention, which allows Israel to hold someone for security reasons for renewable six-month periods. Allan wants to be charged, to be released, or to die.

In a statement Allan previously released to his attorney, he said, "Administrative detention returns us to slavery, and therefore I refuse to be a slave to anyone. The truth is that I currently prefer hunger as long as freedom is the goal in the absence of law in Israeli courts. So, I found myself forced to fight this battle."

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