Palestinian Prisoner Reaches Deal With Israel Over Early Release (By Ali Sawafta)
RAMALLAH, West Bank, April 23 (Reuters) - A Palestinian prisoner whose hunger strike had stoked weeks of protests in the West Bank ended his eight-month on-off fast on Tuesday in exchange for early release by Israel, Palestinian officials said.
Israeli and Palestinian officials had feared that had Samer al-Issawi, 32, died because of refusing food, it might have led to mass unrest.
At least six Palestinian protesters were wounded in February in clashes with Israeli troops after another Palestinian died while being interrogated in an Israeli jail. The clashes were fuelled by the worsening health of Issawi and other prisoners.
Under a deal signed by Issawi and a military prosecutor, he will serve eight more months for violating bail conditions from an earlier release, the officials said, announcing he had ended the strike.
He will then be allowed to go to his Jerusalem home, Qadura Fares, head of the Palestinian prisoner organisation, told Reuters.
Israel convicted Issawi of opening fire on an Israeli bus in 2002, but released him in 2011 along with more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for an Israeli soldier held hostage by the Hamas Islamist group in Gaza.
He was re-arrested last July after Israel said he violated the terms of his release by crossing from his native East Jerusalem to the West Bank, and ordered him to stay in jail until 2029 - his original sentence.
Citing security concerns, Israel restricts Palestinian movement between East Jerusalem and the West Bank - a policy criticised by Palestinians as collective punishment. Israel captured both areas in the 1967 Middle East war, annexing East Jerusalem in a move that has not won international recognition.
Both Palestinian and Israeli officials have visited Issawi frequently to reach a compromise and prevent the violence his death could have provoked, potentially further complicating any peace efforts.
Issawi’s lawyer and sister had conveyed the offer, which was brokered by Israel and Palestinian officials, to his bedside in Israel’s Kaplan hospital, where he had been under Israeli guard and receiving intravenous vitamins but was refusing food.
Palestinians regard Issawi and the prisoners as heroes of their struggle for statehood and welcomed the news of the deal.
"I consider this a great victory and a reversal (to Israel)" said Issa Qaraqea, Palestinian minister of prisoners. "This isn’t just a personal achievement for him, but one for the sake of all the prisoners and citizens who want freedom."
Israel holds some 4,800 Palestinians it accuses of committing or planning violence against it. Palestinian officials say 207 Palestinian security prisoners have died in Israeli jails since 1948.
On Tuesday 2nd April, Minister of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs, Issa Qaraqe, announced the death of prisoner Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh, 64, a throat cancer patient, in Israeli jail. (X)
Qaraqe bare Israeli authorities the full responsibility for the death of Abu Hamdiyeh, who suffered from several diseases in Israeli jail. Qaraqe noted that the Israel Prison Service (IPS), neglected his health condition and didn’t provide any medical treatment for him. (see Dying prisoner treated cruelly by Israeli doctors over many years )
Following his death , outrage and general strike in mourning .
-Protests immediately erupted in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and in Israeli prisons on Tuesday over his death. More protests are expected to break out at his funeral in Hebron on Thursday.
- On Wednesday 3rd April, around 4,500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails sent back their food this morning as part of a protest launched following the death of their fellow prisoner .They also launched a three-day hunger strike .(x)
Also Six Prisoners Wounded after Israeli guards fired tear gas in their cells after they protested the death of Abu Hamdiyeh .(X)
- Shut down in mourning for Abu Hamdiyeh .
As a show of mourning, schools, shops and offices were closed in Hebron at the start of what officials said would be a three-day general strike, as stone-throwing youths clashed with the army in the city centre for the second day running, an AFP correspondent said.
A full strike was also being observed in the northern West Bank city of Nablus where thousands of demonstrators gathered in the city centre for a mass rally, another correspondent said.
A strike was likewise being observed in annexed east Jerusalem ahead of the arrival of Abu Hamdiyeh’s body at Abu Dis medical centre where it was to undergo a Palestinian autopsy on Wednesday afternoon ahead of a funeral in Hebron on Thursday.
In Ramallah and the Gaza Strip, the strike was being partially observed, other correspondents said. (Read more )
Mean while , Samer Issai - a Palestinian prisoner continues his hunger strike demanding his freedom since August ,2012 !(X)