Transfer of Palestinian hunger striker sparks force-feeding concerns
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM - Israel moved a Palestinian hunger striker who has not eaten for over 50 days to a different hospital Monday, officials said, sparking concern that authorities are preparing to force feed him.
Alleged Islamic Jihad activist Mohammed Allaan, held without charge since November, was moved after doctors at his hospital in Beersheva objected to carrying out blood tests against his will, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel said.
The advocacy group put the amount of days Allaan has been on hunger strike at 54, though different numbers have been provided.
He has only been drinking water throughout that time.
A spokesman for the Israeli prison service confirmed the transfer to Barzilai hospital in the city of Ashkelon for "medical reasons" but gave no further details.
Activists and others raised concerns that authorities were preparing to force feed him, with a new law adopted last month loosening restrictions on such practices.
He would be the first to be force fed since the law was adopted.
Hadas Ziv, ethics committee coordinator for Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, said it appeared the transfer was made because doctors objected to treating Allaan, who is in his early 30s.
Arab Israeli MP Basel Ghattas said he wrote to the director of the medical centre where Allaan was taken urging him not to "turn Barzilai hospital into Guantanamo."
"Do not force your doctors to participate in torture," Ghattas said on his Facebook page.
Allaan, a lawyer, is being held under a procedure allowing indefinite internment without charge.
Palestinians in Israeli prisons regularly go on hunger strike in protest at conditions, particularly those who, like him, are held in what Israel calls administrative detention.
On July 30, parliament approved a law allowing prisoners on hunger strike facing death to be force fed, sparking criticism from rights groups and doctors.
That vote came two weeks after Israel freed Islamic Jihad member Khader Adnan following a 56-day hunger strike that brought him near death.
Separately on Monday, Palestinian legislator Khalida Jarrar was denied bail by an Israeli military court, which granted prosecutors two more weeks to bring in witnesses, rights group Addameer said.
Jarrar is a senior member of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which Israel considers to be a "terrorist organisation". She is being held on 12 charges.
"She is arrested for her opinions," her husband Ghassan Jarrar said outside the courtroom. "She is a political prisoner."
A new hearing was set for August 24.