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Palestinian detainee remains hospitalized after ending hunger strike

Palestinian detainee remains hospitalized after ending hunger strike
Palestinian protesters chain themselves in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoner Mohammed Allan in the West Bank city of Hebron on Aug. 19. Allan has since ended his hunger strike, his attorney reported. (Abed al-Hashlamoni / European Pressphoto Agency)

A Palestinian held by Israeli authorities ended his hunger strike Thursday, the day after the country's Supreme Court suspended the warrant for his administrative detention and in effect freed him from custody.

Mohammed Allan, a 31-year-old lawyer and Islamic activist, was arrested by Israel's military in November and jailed without charges in what authorities said was a preventive measure.

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In protest, he launched a hunger strike that went on for more than 60 days and put his life at risk as he refused all medical treatment during his hospitalization.

On Wednesday, the court froze the warrant for his detention after an MRI test found Allan to have suffered brain damage consistent with a vitamin deficiency caused by prolonged fasting.

He remained in Barzilai Medical Center in the city of Ashkelon on Thursday for treatment and was said to be in improving but still precarious condition.

His attorney, Jamil Khatib, said Allan was "a free man and therefore there is no reason for a hunger strike."

Khatib said his client was conscious and communicating but still in life-threatening condition. Allan was receiving vitamins and minerals intravenously and drank a little water Thursday, but it may be several days before he can eat anything.

Earlier Thursday, Barzilai's director, Dr. Hezi Levy, said Allan was improving. He was no longer sedated and was breathing on his own but it was too soon to know whether the damage to his brain was reversible.

As Allan's condition deteriorated in recent weeks, threats from Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip to end the fragile truce that has largely held since fighting in the coastal enclave a year ago prompted Israel's military to deploy several Iron Dome missile defense batteries in southern Israel.

Rockets were fired into Israel on Thursday, but from the other direction. In the early evening, air raid sirens sounded throughout northern Israel as a volley of four rockets was fired from Syria.

Two rockets struck in Galilee and two more on the Israeli-held side of the Golan Heights, causing fire but no injuries, according to a tweet from Israel's army spokesman, Peter Lerner.

The barrage was the heaviest fire from Syria in recent months. A statement from Israel's military said the Islamic Jihad organization was responsible, with Iranian backing.

"We hold Syria responsible and it shall bear the consequences," the statement said.

Shortly after the attack, Israel retaliated with artillery and missiles fired from fighter jets, targeting 14 Syrian military posts and facilities.

There were conflicting reports about casualties. It was not immediately clear whether anyone had been killed by the Israeli fire.

As the civil war raging in Syria has moved increasingly closer to Israel in recent years, there have been a number of incidents in which mortar shells and other fire spilled over into northern Israel.

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Although they were believed to have been unintentional, Israel has been consistent in its policy of retaliating against targets belonging to Syrian President Bashar Assad's government.

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While claiming that Iran sponsored Thursday's rocket attack, the Israeli army said it would continue to hold the Syrian government responsible for all attacks emanating from Syrian territory.

Sobelman is a special correspondent.

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