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West Bank - Palestinian Prisoner In Deal With Israel Ends Fast

Published on: April 23, 2013 09:01 AM
Last updated on: April 23, 2013 10:31 AM
By: AP
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 The parents of Palestinian hunger striking prisoner Samer Issawi at their home in the Issawiya neighborhood in Arab East Jerusalem, 23 April 2013, as they rejoice that their son has decided to end his hunger strike, which has lasted more than eight months. Samer, 32, has agreed to a deal to serve eight months for allegedly violating bail conditions and will then be freed to his home in Jerusalem. His hunger strike and deteriorating health conditions have sparked protests and concern that he might die while in Israeli custody, even though he is currently in an Israeli hospital and is kept alive with vitamins and liquids drips.  EPA/MAHFOUZ ABU TURK The parents of Palestinian hunger striking prisoner Samer Issawi at their home in the Issawiya neighborhood in Arab East Jerusalem, 23 April 2013, as they rejoice that their son has decided to end his hunger strike, which has lasted more than eight months. Samer, 32, has agreed to a deal to serve eight months for allegedly violating bail conditions and will then be freed to his home in Jerusalem. His hunger strike and deteriorating health conditions have sparked protests and concern that he might die while in Israeli custody, even though he is currently in an Israeli hospital and is kept alive with vitamins and liquids drips.  EPA/MAHFOUZ ABU TURK

West Bank - A Palestinian prisoner who refused food for eight months ended his hunger strike on Tuesday after reaching a deal with Israeli for early release, his lawyer and the military said.

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Samer Issawi began refusing food in August to protest his re-arrest last July. The 33-year-old Issawi became a symbol of the Palestinian struggle against Israel, and some demonstrations over his case turned violent.

Attorney Jawad Bulous said Israeli military prosecutors agreed to release Issawi after he serves another eight months.

The lawyer said Issawi ended his hunger strike in the presence of his sister and uncle. The Israeli military confirmed the deal but had no further details.

Issawi was sentenced in 2002 to 26 years in prison for his role in a series of shooting attacks targeting police cars and students at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University. He was released as part of a 2011 deal that freed hundreds of Palestinians - many of them militants involved in deadly attacks - in exchange for an Israeli soldier held in Gaza for five years.

Under the terms of the prisoner exchange, Issawi was banned from entering the West Bank but travelled there three times. He also tried to persuade a witness to lie to Israeli security forces about his location, but he later confessed to violating the terms of his release, said another lawyer, who has overseen the case. That attorney spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not want to be seen as contradicting Issawi’s supporters.

He said security forces accused Issawi of planning to kidnap Israeli soldiers and trying to amass weapons, but he was not charged with those offenses. After he was arrested again, he was expected to serve the rest of his original sentence - another 15 years.

Issawi was hospitalized in recent weeks as his health deteriorated. To pressure Israeli authorities to come to a deal, Issawi refused infusions of vitamins and minerals, his attorney said.

“No doubt, this is a big victory for Samer,” Bulous said. The hunger strike “forced the Israeli side to reverse their position.”

The prisoner issue is sensitive for Palestinians, many of whom have had a relative behind bars. There are some 4,500 Palestinians in Israel jails for sentences ranging from throwing stones to killing civilians, according to figures from Israeli prison authorities in February.

Palestinians see the prisoners as heroes in their struggle for statehood. Israelis view them as terrorists.

Over the past years, the prisoners have turned to hunger strikes to pressure Israel for better conditions, to try end indefinite detention without charge and to end sentences they see as unjust.

Also Tuesday, Israeli forces demolished some 20 tin shacks and animal pens belonging to semi-nomadic Palestinian communities in the northern West Bank, the U.N. said.

Israeli officials routinely say that the flimsy tin houses are in a military firing zone. Palestinians say the area has been their traditional home and grazing for at least a generation.

After the demolitions, a 46-year-old woman sat with her week-old grandchild in the shade near her destroyed shack.

“We will rebuild it,” said her mother who gave her name as Umm Ayman. “We’ve got nowhere else to go.”

An Israeli military official said he was looking into the matter.


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 Apr 23, 2013 at 04:06 PM Anonymous Says:

Ugly situation. Perhaps in the future we can ship people like this off to Guantanamo. It would be out of our Jewish hands and the American Military can certainly offer a privilege to these poor rampant terrorists. Is that not too much to ask? I am sure that if Israel is not held responsible for ever terrorist who is in their holding then we can all sleep better. And I am sure that our Faithful American Legislators can find a way to feed and keep this poor prisoner for his FULL TERM.

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