Clashes outside Hospital of Hunger Strike Palestinian


Arab supporters and Jewish detractors of a Palestinian held by Israel without trial clashed Sunday with police near the hospital treating him after he lost consciousness during a hunger strike.

Police said they arrested more than 10 Jews and Arabs, including Palestinians from east Jerusalem, for throwing stones at officers and disrupting public order in the southern city of Ashkelon where 31-year-old Mohammed Allan is being treated.

Arabs and Palestinians had planned to stage a rally outside the Barzilai hospital, but Jewish rightwing activists confronted them, chanting racist slogans and saying they hoped Allan died.

Clashes with police, including stone-throwing from both sides, erupted outside the hospital where Jewish protesters also broke the windows of a Palestinian television news vehicle.

The clashes continued as officers began removing the Arabs to the city's entrance to prevent further confrontations with the Jewish protesters.

Police prevented additional busloads of demonstrators from entering Ashkelon, an AFP reporter said.

Police separated hundreds of people from each side, with the Arabs waving Palestinian flags, chanting their support for Allan and calling for his release.

Allan, accused by Israel to being in the militant Islamic Jihad movement which recognizes him as a member, slipped into a coma on Friday after ingesting only water since June 18 in protest at his being held in custody without charge.

Since November he has been in what is known as administrative detention, which allows people to be held without charge for six-month intervals that can be renewed indefinitely.

A spokeswoman for Barzilai told AFP late Sunday that Allan remained unconscious but stable and said he was given fluids and salts intravenously, and was breathing with the aid of an artificial respirator.

If and when he regains consciousness -- and if he continues to refuse to eat -- Israel's government must decide whether it will invoke a law passed in July allowing the force-feeding of prisoners when their lives are in danger.

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