ICRC says Palestinian hunger striker at risk of death

JERUSALEM // A Palestinian detainee on hunger strike in an Israeli jail for 50 days is now “at immediate risk” of death, the International Committee of the Red Cross warned on Friday.

The ICRC said Mohammed Allaan was in critical condition in an Israeli hospital and called on the authorities to allow an immediate family visit.

“We believe that Mr Allaan’s life is at immediate risk,” wrote Jacques de Maio, head of the ICRC’s delegation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

“His family has been unable to visit him since 22 March, and they are very anxious about him. Given the current circumstances, we ask the Israeli authorities to allow them to see him as a matter of urgency.”

The Israeli Prisons Service spokeswoman could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday, eve of the Jewish sabbath.

On July 30, Israel’s parliament approved a law allowing prisoners on hunger strike facing death to be force fed, sparking criticism from rights groups and doctors.

“As regards Mr Allan’s hunger strike, any solution must take into account the need to protect his moral and physical integrity,” Mr de Maio said in the ICRC statement.

“The detainee’s choice must be respected and his dignity preserved.”

While the new law does not specifically mention Palestinians, internal security minister Gilad Erdan, who sponsored the legislation, said last week it was necessary since “hunger strikes of terrorists in prisons have become a means to threaten Israel.”

Last month, Israel freed Islamic Jihad member Khader Adnan after a 56-day hunger strike that brought him near death.

Palestinians in Israeli prisons regularly go on hunger strike in protest at conditions, particularly those who like Mr Adnan are held under a procedure allowing indefinite detention without charge or trial.

* Agence France-Presse

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