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Q&A: A look at the Palestinian hunger striker at the heart of Israel's force-feeding debate

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Israel's Supreme Court on Wednesday suspended the detention order of a hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner, releasing him while he receives medical care.

The more than two-month protest fast by Mohammed Allan has tested a new Israeli law allowing force-feeding, which has been criticized by many doctors who say the practice amounts to torture. It also has cast light on Israel's use of administrative detention, the holding of suspects for long periods without charge or trial.

Here's a look at Allan and the debate over force-feeding and administrative detention.


WHO IS MOHAMMED ALLAN?

Mohammed Allan is a 31-year-old Palestinian lawyer being held by Israel for his alleged affiliation with Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian militant group that has carried out numerous attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers. Israel imprisoned Allan from 2006 to 2009 on charges of involvement with Islamic Jihad's militant activities. His family said that after his release Allan became a lawyer in the West Bank city of Nablus and cut ties with the group. Israeli authorities arrested Allan again last November and detained him without charge for two six-month periods. Allan has denied any wrongdoing and demanded that he be released or charged.


WHY DID HE GO ON HUNGER STRIKE?

PHOTO: Supporters of Mohammed Allan, a Palestinian prisoner on a hunger strike, hold a photograph of Allan , that says " free the prisoner Allan " during a rally in the Bedouin city of Rahat, southern Israel, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015. A Palestinian detainee who slipped into unconsciousness last week after a two-month hunger strike woke up Tuesday and said he would continue his protest, even as his condition remains critical. Lawyer Jawad Bullos said Mohammed Allan, 31, vowed to "hunger strike until he is freed." (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Supporters of Mohammed Allan, a Palestinian prisoner on a hunger strike, hold a photograph of Allan , that says " free the prisoner Allan " during a rally in the Bedouin city of Rahat, southern Israel, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015. A Palestinian detainee who slipped into unconsciousness last week after a two-month hunger strike woke up Tuesday and said he would continue his protest, even as his condition remains critical. Lawyer Jawad Bullos said Mohammed Allan, 31, vowed to "hunger strike until he is freed." (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Allan began his hunger strike 65 days ago to protest being held in administrative detention. Palestinian prisoners have used hunger strikes before to draw attention to the practice, with several prisoners nearly dying. Fearing that a death could spark violence among Palestinians, Israel has at times acceded to hunger strikers' demands. In June, Israel freed Khader Adnan, 36, a senior Islamic Jihad activist, after a 55-day hunger strike. Israel released Mahmoud Sarsak, a Palestinian soccer player, after a three-month hunger strike in 2012. Sarsak denied Israeli allegations that he was active in Islamic Jihad and had planted a bomb that injured a soldier.


WHY DIDN'T ISRAEL FORCE-FEED ALLAN?

A new Israeli law passed narrowly in July allows a judge to sanction force-feeding or medical treatment if an inmate's life is threatened, even if the prisoner refuses. But many medical professionals view force-feeding as a violation of patient autonomy akin to torture. The Israeli Medical Association has urged physicians not to cooperate, and is challenging the law in Israel's Supreme Court.


WHY DIDN'T ISRAEL CHARGE HIM?

Israeli authorities have not said why they are holding Allan or why they have not brought formal charges against him. Israel has, however, defended administrative detention as a vital tool for preventing attacks, because it allows authorities to hold suspects while they gather intelligence and build cases against them. Rights groups say that while the practice may be acceptable in exceptional cases, it violates the right to due process and has been used routinely by Israel on thousands of suspects.


WHO ELSE IS BEING HELD IN ADMINISTRATIVE DETENTION?

Israel is currently holding 340 Palestinians in administrative detention. Last month, it took the rare step of placing three young Israeli ultranationalists in administrative detention as part of a crackdown on Jewish extremism following an arson attack in the West Bank that killed a Palestinian toddler and his father.

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