After a year of detention without charge or trial, and a two-month-long hunger strike that nearly killed him, Muhammad Allan was released from Israeli custody on Thursday.
“Thank God who favored us with what we asked for. Thank God who brought us out of these dark prisons,” Allan said upon his frenzied reception home in Einabus, a Palestinian village near the occupied West Bank city of Nablus.
Allan, a 31-year-old lawyer, was among several Palestinians who went on hunger strike earlier this year to protest their detention without charge or trial on renewable orders handed down by Israeli military courts.
This practice, known as administrative detention, is routinely used by Israel against Palestinians, depriving them of their fundamental rights.
Several prisoners who went on lengthy hunger strikes this year reached agreements with their Israeli jailers that their detention orders would not be renewed.
“With this hunger strike we succeeded in creating a new balance,” Allan said at a press conference upon his release.
“We won an end to administrative detention, but it was costly,” he added.
Allan, who had rejected an Israeli proposal to expel him to another country in exchange for his freedom, said that solidarity strikes by other detainees helped force the hand of the Israel Prison Service.
Islamic Jihad, the Palestinian resistance party with which Allan is affiliated, also warned at the time that it would not abide by the August 2014 ceasefire that ended 51 days of Israeli bombardement in Gaza if Allan died in custody.
Arrest and detention
Having already spent three years in Israeli prison, Allan’s latest ordeal began when he was arrested during a dawn raid on his family’s home one year ago and then held under a six-month administrative detention order on the basis of secret evidence.
Allan began his hunger strike on 16 June after the detention order was renewed for another six months.
During his strike, the Israeli prison authorities transferred him among several detention centers and eventually to the intensive care unit in Soroka hospital, in the south of present-day Israel.
The Israeli government, which had recently legalized the practice, made moves to force-feed Allan.
When doctors at Soroka hospital said they would refuse to force-feed him, Allan was transferred to nearby Barzilai Medical Center, where he was shackled to a bed and placed under guard.
Allan was put on life-support in mid-August after he temporarily lost consciousness. A few days later Israel’s high court suspended his detention order when medical tests showed he had suffered brain damage from malnutrition.
Nearly a month later, Israeli forces arrested Allan at the medical center shortly after its director signed his release forms.
Allan was transferred to Ramle prison clinic in central Israel.
His detention order expired on Wednesday.
1,200 new arrests
Israeli forces arrested approximately 1,200 Palestinians amid a sharp increase in confrontations and deadly violence last month.
Of those arrested, 171 were being held under administrative detention orders, according to Palestinian rights groups.
Israel was holding 6,700 Palestinian political prisoners in October, among them 320 child prisoners, and 450 administrative detainees, according to the Palestinian prisoner advocacy group Addameer.