'Israel looking to deport hunger-striking prisoner'

AFP quotes Israeli official as saying Israel ready to deport Palestinian Essawi to EU or UN country, but prisoner has refused.

April 12, 2013 21:59
1 minute read.
Samer Essawi after being sentenced, February 21, 2013.

Samer Isssawi, hunger-striker 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/ The Jerusalem Post)


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Israel has expressed a desire to deport hunger-striking Palestinian security prisoner Samer Essawi to a UN or EU member state, but he has refused the initiative, AFP reported on Friday.

Essawi was arrested by the IDF in Operation Defensive Shield during the second intifada in 2002. A member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, he was sentenced to 30 years in prison for terrorism-related activity. Essawi served 10 years, and in October 2011 he was released along with 476 other Palestinians in the Egypt-brokered Gilad Schalit deal between Hamas and Israel.

However, in July 2012 he was rearrested as the IDF said he had violated the terms of his release. He began a hunger strike shortly after his arrest in 2012.

Essawi's health has deteriorated as a result of the prolonged hunger strike. The Israeli official was quoted by AFP as saying the prisoner could be released to Gaza, or to "any EU member country, or any UN member country."

The official reportedly stated that Israel has communicated with both the EU and UN about possibly taking in Essawi, but has not received an answer.

AFP quoted an EU spokesman as saying "Israel has not formally approached the EU on this subject."

Essawi's lawyer Jawad Boulous told AFP that Israel had lobbied the prisoner to be deported to a number of states including Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Switzerland and Finland, but that he had "strongly refused in principle to be deported to any state."

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