‘Today we saw police brutality,’ says a participant at protest for Palestinian hunger striker Muhammad Allan in Ashkelon. ‘They used severe violence against us, as they let the right-wing protesters attack us.’
Text by Rami Younis, Photos by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org
Hundreds of Palestinians protested in Ashkelon Sunday night for the release of hunger striker Mohammad Allan, a Palestinian prisoner who has not eaten for more than 60 days in resistance of his administrative detention, a controversial practice which denies the standard rights to trial and to knowledge of charges against the suspect.
The protesters arrived in four buses from Jerusalem, Jaffa and northern Israel, and were planning to hold a vigil outside Barzili Hospital, where Allan is currently being treated, but were blocked by the police for over half an hour. When the activists made their way to the hospital, the police approached them with pepper spray and used skunk water cannons and pepper spray to disperse the crowds.
Eight activists were arrested, at least four of whom were sent to the local hospital due to injuries sustained by police attacks.
“Today we saw police brutality,” a participant, Fadi Masmara, told 972. “They attacked a protester saying that it’s forbidden to hold signs, they took a Palestinian flag from another and broke it. They used severe violence against us as they let the right wing protesters attack us.”
Right-wing protesters also gathered near the hospital, and attacked a Palestinian reporter, damaging her car, and attempted to attack the Palestinian activists. Many passed police lines and threw stones and bottles toward the Palestinian side. Five were arrested as the group chanted, “Death to Arabs,” “Death to the journalists,” and “In Gaza, no one is in school, since there are no children left.”
Mohammed Allan, 31, a lawyer from the area of Nablus, has been held by Israel in administrative detention since November 2014. Allan is on his 64th day of hunger strike, intended to secure his release.
He has refused treatment in the hospital, including salt and nutrient additives, but is reportedly drinking water.
When Allan’s condition worsened over the weekend, doctors anesthetized him in order to give him treatment without resistance. Many believe this may be a step toward force feeding him, a practice which according to the Israel Medical Association is a “form of torture,” yet was sanctioned by the Knesset with a new law last month.
“This demonstration was supposed to be the highlight of the struggle for Allan, but the police, as usual when it comes to Palestinians, had other plans,” said political activist Naji Abbas. “They wanted to prevent us from showing solidarity with a person that the state is punishing for no fault of his own.”