Palestinian hunger striker, Israel reach deal

Deal will see Samer Issawi end his strike and agree to serve eight months in prison, according to Israel and Palestinian officials.

April 23, 2013 19:16
2 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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Israeli authorities and Palestinian hunger striker Samer Issawi have agreed to a deal that will see him end his strike and agree to serve eight more months in prison, Israeli and Palestinian officials said on Tuesday.

A senior Israeli security official said Tuesday that “in recent days, in keeping with recommendations made by the security services and authorized by the political echelon, the prisoner will cease his hunger strike and remain in jail for a further eight months, for a total of 17 months altogether.”

The official added that Issawi will be released on suspended sentence and that for the next 14.5 years, if he violates the conditions of his release at any time, he will return to prison to serve out his original sentence.

The official added that they continued to offer Issawi the option of being deported to the Gaza Strip, adding that since European Union and United Nations representatives had spoken to Israeli officials about Issawi, Israel had a standing offer to allow him to leave for an EU or UN member state that would take him. Palestinian officials said Tuesday that offer was rejected by Issawi.

“Issawi was arrested after violating terms of his release, and was investigated on suspicion of carrying out security violations based on confidential information gathered against him,” the IDF Spokesman’s Office said in a statement to the press.

“His case was brought before the committee for examining release violations – which decided to jail him. As a result of negotiations between the different parties, it was agreed that Issawi will confess to violating the terms of his release. It was also agreed that as a result of this violation, the committee ruled that he will return to prison until he has finished a total 17 months since the beginning of his arrest.”

Abdullah Zghari, executive director of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, said that Israeli officials met with Issawi at Rehovot’s Kaplan Medical Center on Tuesday, and reached the deal which will allow him to return to his east Jerusalem home after the rest of his prison sentence, in return for ending his strike, which has become a symbol of Palestinian protest in Israel and has helped fuel protests against Israeli forces in the West Bank.

Issawi was one of 1,027 prisoners released in the exchange for captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, after he served eight years of a 26-year sentence for a shooting attack. Issawi was re-arrested in August for violating the terms of his release by leaving the Jerusalem area and shortly thereafter began his hunger strike.

On Sunday, his lawyer from the Palestinian Prisoners Society said he stopped taking nutritional supplements, a move that threatened to worsen his medical condition. As his health continued to worsen recently, following well over 200 days of his hunger strike, Israeli officials worried that his death could lead to a resurgence of violence in the West Bank, as the deaths of Palestinian security prisoners have in the recent past.

Zghari said that for the near future, Issawi will have to take supplements and go through rehabilitation in order to return his body to the condition where he will be able to eat normal meals again.

“This deal is a victory for the Palestinian prisoners and their families against the Israeli occupation,” Zghari told The Jerusalem Post.

“This has opened the eyes of all the other prisoners and many will start hunger strikes because they know without pressure the Israeli occupation will not give in.”

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