A poster in support of Samer Issawi at last week's commemoration of Prisoners Day in Ramallah. Photo by Lazar Simeonov.
The long term hunger striking political prisoner Samer Issawi will be finally released by the Israeli authorities after he reached an agreement with the Israeli Prison Service overnight on Monday April 22.
The deal as confirmed by Shireen Issawi, Samer’s sister and lawyer, is that he will spend 8 months in prison starting from April 23 and after that will be released immediately to his hometown of Issawiya in Jerusalem, a term that Issawi refused to compromise. Ma’an News Agency reports that he has already started to take some liquids under medical recommendation, after more than 265 days of consuming just water, vitamins and salts.
The Palestinian Prisoners’ Club lawyer Jawad Boulos announced that the deal was reached after Issawi declared on Monday that he would never accept any future Israeli court hearings and would always reject the recognition of Israeli courts. Boulos pointed out as well that Israel was worried about his ongoing deteriorating health.
Reutersreported that the head of the Palestinian prisoner organization, Qadoura Fares, stated that Issawi agreed on a deal brokered by Israeli and Palestinian officials to serve eight months for allegedly violating bail conditions for an earlier release, after which he will be freed to his Jerusalem home.
The Jerusalem resident is reportedly affiliated with the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. He was arrested in April 2002 and sentenced to 26 years under charges of membership in an illegal organization, possession of explosives and attempted murder. On October 2011 was released in the historic prisoners exchange deal along with 1,026 other prisoners but the Israeli authorities arrested him again on July 7 2012 at Jaba’ checkpoint, northwest of Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Magistrate Court accused Issawi of violating the terms of his conditional release by entering West Bank areas.
According to prisoner rights group Addameer, the Israeli court ruled in February 2013 that Issawi would be sentenced to eight months beginning from the date of his latest arrest, with the possible sentencing (under Article 186 in the Military Court) of continuing the remainder of his previous 30 year sentence, of which he served seven years.
The Palestinian Prisoners’ Club lawyer Jawad Boulos announced that the deal was reached after Issawi declared on Monday that he would never accept any future Israeli court hearings and would always reject the recognition of Israeli courts
Issawi started his hunger strike which he called “My only weapon to gain my freedom” on August 12012 in protest of his re-arrest and re-trial based on secret information, circumstances that ruined any attempt to defend himself.
Since the beginning of his struggle, the Israeli authorities have repeatedly offered different alternatives for ending his hunger strike. Two weeks ago, Israel put on the table the possibility of exile to any UN country but Issawi refused.
During the hunger striking process that led his body weight to drop to 45 kilograms and 28 pulses per minute, Issawi was determined to reinforce his convictions and his willpower of refusing any deal away from his own terms. An excerpt from his letter written in the Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot, last February:
“My message is that I will continue until the end, until the last drop of water in my body, until martyrdom. Martyrdom is an honor for me in this battle. My martyrdom is my remaining bomb in the confrontation with the tyrants and the jailers, in the face of the racist policy of the occupation that humiliates our people and exercises against us all means of oppression and repression…There is no going back, only in my victory, because I’m the owner of Right and my detention is invalid and illegal.”