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Allan's hunger-strike reveals UN complacency with human rights violations

International solidarity with Mohammed Allan, whose hunger strike has garnered significant attention due to the recently approved law requiring medical personnel to force-feed prisoners embarking upon this form of protest, has obscured other factors in the wider framework of human rights violations carried out by Israel. Emphasis upon freeing Allan, who is now in a coma, has once again restricted the momentum that activism could have sustained with regard to other Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, and who have embarked upon different forms of protest against administrative detention.

Meanwhile, Israel and the United Nations have exhibited their synchronised penchant for further promotion of human rights violations. According to Ma'an news agency, Israeli doctors may have medically induced Allan's coma. Israeli doctors at Barzilai Medical Centre have negated the allegations. However, it must be remembered that Allan was transferred to Barzilai following the doctors' refusal in Soroka to comply with force-feeding legislation. Quoted in Ma'an, spokeswoman for Barzilai stated in reference to Allan, "When he lost consciousness, he became an ordinary patient that should get life-saving treatment." The logical inference amounts to doctors at Barzilai possibly seeking to find alternative means of implementing the force-feeding bill by altering Allan's medical circumstances to suit both the state's purposes and its alleged medical code of ethics.

A joint statement by the UN, OCHA and WHO has resorted to quoting a series of declarations from various sources; resulting in the inimitable style of international organisations resorting to common knowledge rather than actively seeking to prevent Israel from indulging in torture. Other than calling the force-feeding legislation "a cause for concern to those who work to protect the right to health of Palestinians in the occupied territories," and a conclusion emphasising "the importance of working towards improving health and human rights conditions of Palestinian prisoners in line with international standards," the press release signifies rhetorical waste. However, the last two sentences provide an example of the discrepancies of which both the UN and Israel are competent at availing themselves.

"The practice of administrative detention is incompatible with international human rights law and should be ended. All detainees should be promptly charged or released." However, despite the stringent measures outlined in Article 78 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, administrative detention has not yet been completely prohibited. Israel's warped narrative and reliance upon security rhetoric, which has been absorbed and disseminated by the international community due to their complicity in protecting colonialism, have assimilated administrative detention into a process that is barely questioned by the UN, until a hunger striker's health deteriorates.

In addition, calling for prompt charges or release of Palestinian prisoners has routinely resulted in a debacle that shows Israel's contempt of international law, as well as the dynamics that allow the settler-colonial state to manipulate legislation with impunity. Many Palestinian political prisoners have been released, only to find themselves incarcerated once again and subjected to the same dehumanising conditions. As Allan's health deteriorates, Israel has suggested forced deportation as an option for Allan – a strategy that was applied to force Aymen Sharawned and Samer Issawi to cease their hunger-strike in 2013. Article 49(1) of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits individual or forced transfer, regardless of motive. Allan's lawyer has already rejected this hypocritical offer. Yet, regardless of whether it is ultimately accepted, it is unlikely that the UN and its affiliated organisations will seek to condemn this parody of freedom that has become a regular characteristic of Israel's bargaining with Palestinian prisoners.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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