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Palestinian hunger striker released by Israel

March 17, 2013|By Maher Abukhater
  • Palestinian protesters dodge smoke in clashes this month with Israeli forces next to the Israeli military prison Ofer, south of the West Bank town of Ramallah, during demonstrations in support of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strikes.
Palestinian protesters dodge smoke in clashes this month with Israeli… (Atef Safadi / European Pressphoto…)

RAMALLAH, West Bank – A Palestinian from the West Bank who has been on a hunger strike in Israeli jails since July 1 was released Sunday under an agreement to resettle in the Gaza Strip, according to Palestinian officials.

Ayman Sharawna, 36, a resident of Dura, near the southern West Bank city of Hebron, was taken Sunday evening from a hospital in southern Israel straight to Gaza, where he was quickly taken to a hospital for further treatment. He was reported to be in poor health after months of not eating.

Qaddoura Faris, director of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, a support group for prisoners, said Sharawna reached a deal with the Israeli authorities to end his hunger strike and to be effectively confined to the Gaza Strip for 10 years.

The alternative, the group said, was the possibility of a long prison sentence handed down by a military court scheduled to convene  Monday. The court could have ordered him to serve the 28 years remaining in his sentence at the time of his release from prison in the October 2011 prisoners exchange deal between Hamas and Israel.

Sharawna was rearrested after his release for what an Israeli Prison Service spokeswoman said was “violation of the terms of his release.”

He started his hunger strike July 1 but suspended it in December when a military court promised to consider his appeal. He resumed the strike Jan. 17 when it appeared he would not be released.

With the release of Sharawna, only one prisoner remains on a hunger strike. Two other striking prisoners suspended their hunger strikes after three months, following a court hearing that said they will be released at the end of their administrative detention terms.

Samer Issawi, whose situation is similar to Sharawna's, has been on a hunger strike since August. He has refused to be released to Gaza, insisting that he should be released to his home in East Jerusalem.
If Issawi is convicted by an Israeli military court that is supposed to convene  Thursday, he could be sentenced to serve the remaining 20 years left in his sentence at the time of his release in October 2011.

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