Friday, August 21, 2015

21-Aug-15: Hungering, thirsting, just dying for fresh victims

Image Source
Muhammad Allan, a Palestinian Arab, is widely depicted in parts of the social media right now as a hunger-striker unjustly detained, a veritable "freedom fighter", "courageously resisting tyranny". And of course "gentle, conscientious and well-respected". 

Multi-media campaigns like the one in which he now features usually come with gentle backgrounders ("loved kittens, spoke nicely to his sisters") plus lawyers, mothers and protesters. This one is from that same template, along with media distortions, half-truths and inaccuracies.

A 31-year-old Arab lawyer, the man is indeed a hunger striker and has been since June. He became comatose earlier this week and then regained consciousness in Barzilai Medical Center, Ashkelon, on Tuesday where he has been getting Israeli medical care. The following day, Wednesday, Israel's High Court ordered that he be freed from administrative detention "due to his deteriorating medical condition, including the revelation Wednesday afternoon that his brain had been damaged." More than this, 
Deputy High Court President Elyakim Rubinstein and justices Hanan Melcer and Neal Hendel held that due to his health situation, Allan’s family members could visit him on an unrestricted basis, as if he were not a detainee. [Jerusalem Post]
Once the court had ruled, one of his lawyers told Reuters that the 65-day hunger strike was done: 
"The story is over, administrative detention is canceled, and therefore there is no strike," said lawyer Jameel Khatib. But a hospital spokeswoman said it would not have been possible for Allan to make such a decision, since he was not conscious or aware of his surroundings... [Jerusalem Post]
Hunger striker's mother in the Ashkelon hospital where his life
is being saved by Israeli medicine, despite his best efforts [Image Source]
Internal contradictions happen. No one seems too concerned for factual accuracy when Palestinian Arab figures are being elevated to mythic/heroic status against all the evidence. For us news consumers, we're left to distinguish among the available menu items of fantasy, exaggeration, political spin and ordinary empirical facts.

Naturally, Allan (or Alaan or Alan or محمد علان) is not just a lawyer. And his problems are not the kind that traditionally come from legal practice. 

Quite the opposite: from reliable sources, we understand he's deeply invested in terrorism as both active player and facilitator. Allaan was first arrested by Israeli authorities in 2006 due to his involvement in recruiting a human bomb in advance of a murderous attack. These charges earned him a trial, a conviction, and a sentence of which he served three years in jail. He was arrested again in 2014 on the basis of reliable intelligence regarding his contacts with Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the context of preparing of fresh terror attacks. The evidence was brought before the same High Court that eventually released him on Wednesday, Based on their judicial review at that time, his incarceration under Israel's administrative detention laws got the court's approval - not a foregone conclusion in Israel's strict legal frameworks. At a guess, we think this may have been a "ticking time bomb" case, though no one has said so in the media.

Same mother, same hospital [Image Source]
Alaan's hunger strike is naturally self-imposed, and the physical damage he may have caused to himself is too. 

But setting that aside for a moment, concerned people reading the heart-rending descriptions in the media of what he and his organs went through up until Wednesday might find it hard to avoid feelings of sympathy. It was good to note that one of the judges in Wednesday's hearing, presented with a passionate argument on Alaan's behalf by another of his lawyers that detention was at the root of the problem, pointed out what ought to be obvious:
"This is not a result of his detention, sir. There is damage as a result of his hunger strike that he undertook." - Supreme Court Judge Hanan Melcer, quoted in Jerusalem Post, August 19, 2015
They might even come away with the impression that Israel applies administrative detention widely and indiscriminately. Or that Israel is somehow unique or unusual among civilized states in resorting to it. 

Again, the mother, the hospital, the arms [Image Source]
Reuters, in reporting on Alaan on Monday, framed its version of the narrative in a way that might easily lead a reader to those wrong conclusions:
Israel sees his hunger strike, which began more than 60 days ago, as a powerful challenge against "administrative detention", a practice that has drawn criticism from Palestinians and human rights groups but which Israel calls a security necessity... [Reuters, August 17, 2015]
Human rights people say this, but Israel says that. He says, she says, the human rights people say. It's a common news industry approach with which friends of Israel are familiar, but it's also cheap, unfair and misleading. 

The reality (very rarely mentioned in Alaan-related news reports) is that many states, some of them respectable - including AustraliaBrazilIrelandJordanUnited Kingdom and the United States - all have laws providing for administrative detention. Those laws are in active use when there's a need and the circumstances are appropriate. Considering the intense but little reported acts of terrorism to which Israeli civilians are routinely subjected by their Palestinian Arab neighbours, you could make a strong case that Israel has the need. And the circumstances, according to the widely respected High Court of Justice, are appropriate.

Hunger striking terrorist's mother again. She's in an Israeli hospital
- probably Barzilai - but we can't be sure [Image Source]
To illustrate: we wrote about a rocket barrage that struck northern Israel yesterday ["20-Aug-15: Rockets from Syria slam into Israel's north"]. The IDF says those rockets came from Syrian terrorists acting in the name of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (the PIJs deny it, but the IDF makes a pretty strong case). They're Alaan's colleagues, the people in whose company he hangs when he's not on hunger strike in an Israeli hospital room.

As for how widely administrative detention is used by Israel, the numbers given in this Palestinian Arab news report suggest it's currently applied to about 7% of the Arabs in Israeli prisons.

A word about Barzilai before we end. 

The medical center where the hunger-striking Islamic Jihadist is having his life saved is in Ashkelon, the closest Israeli city to the Islamist-ruled terror-addicted Gaza Strip. Despite the unstinting care it provides to all-comers on a non-discriminatory basis, Barzilai gets routinely attacked by Qassam and Grad rockets ("as many as 140 over one weekend" and here's a fine photo collection to drive the message home) fired at them by Hamas and PIJ. Scarce funds have had to be diverted from the hospital's budget into the construction of underground wards and emergency facilities - an effort that saves lives

We understand the profound cultural and ethical chasm separating us, and don't expect the Alaan clan to give thanks. But it's striking that no mainstream media channel has seen fit to at least mention that the facility which has saved this Islamic Jihad terrorist's life has frequently come under rocket-attack by his fellow savages-in-arms, and almost certainly will again when they can do it.

2 comments:

Dan Livni said...

Thank you for pointing this out.
Nobody in the media seems to be telling people this.

We understand he's deeply invested in terrorism as both active player and facilitator. Allaan was first arrested by Israeli authorities in 2006 due to his involvement in recruiting a human bomb in advance of a murderous attack. These charges earned him a trial, a conviction, and a sentence of which he served three years in jail. He was arrested again in 2014 on the basis of reliable intelligence regarding his contacts with Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the context of preparing of fresh terror attacks.

This Ongoing War said...

Dan, it's painful to see how often we learn previously undisclosed things either from open source data or from speaking to someone who knows someone. The people on the opposing side don't have this problem. That's a matter, like so many other matters, on which we have nothing to learn from them at all.

When they lack data or information, time after time they just make up whatever they want the missing info to be. The simplest of examples - the number of people who were murdered by our daughter's murderer. It's obviously something we know about. And we track what they say over there in the Arabic speaking world. You would be amazed at the wide range of numbers they quote, as well as the most basic of facts around the numbers.

Checking facts is something they evidently don't feel the need to do. It's evidently something life has taught them.

Our side, by contrast, depends on accurate info being found or delivered, and on maximum credibility. Too often, the people who are supposed to be doing it (in government, in paid lobbying positions, either don't or do it ineffectively.

Thanks for your comment.