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Palestinian inmate ends hunger strike

April 23, 2013|By Maher Abukhater
  • Protesters hold posters showing Palestinian prisoner Samer Issawi outside a hospital in Rehovot, Israel.
Protesters hold posters showing Palestinian prisoner Samer Issawi outside… (Mahmoud Illean / Associated…)

RAMALLAH, West Bank – A Palestinian inmate ended a prolonged hunger strike Tuesday after reaching a deal with Israeli military prosecutors for early release, his lawyer and family said.

Samer Issawi, whose fast helped fuel weeks of protests in the West Bank this year, will be allowed to return home to East Jerusalem after he serves eight more months, his attorney, Jawad Boulus, said.

Issawi, 33, had refused food for 227 days, receiving only infusions of water, vitamins and other supplements, Boulus said. Israeli and Palestinian officials feared an outbreak of violence in the West Bank if he died in prison.

Issawi embarked on the hunger strike to protest his arrest in July for allegedly violating the terms of a previous release by traveling to the West Bank.

He was one of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners freed in 2011 in exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Issawi was originally arrested in 2002 in connection with a number of shooting attacks on Israeli vehicles and sentenced to 26 years in prison.

After his latest arrest, Issawi had expected to serve the rest of his sentence, but he will be granted amnesty under Tuesday's deal, Boulus said.

The agreement was signed in the presence of Assawi's sister and attorney at Israel's Kaplan hospital, where he has been under medical observation. Issawi had rejected release offers that would have required him to go to Europe, the Gaza Strip or the West Bank, Boulus said.

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Abukhater is a special correspondent.

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