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Palestinian on 8-Month Hunger Strike Refuses 'Deportation'

Samer Issawi writes: "I do not accept to be deported out of my homeland. I do not accept your courts and your arbitrary rule."

- Andrea Germanos, staff writer

The Associated Press is reporting on Friday that Israel "has offered to deport" hunger striking Palestinian detainee Samer Issawi to a European or other UN nation, citing an an Israeli official.

33-year-old, Jerusalem-born Issawi has been on a hunger strike for over 8 months in protest of his detention and may now be near death.

Describing the circumstances of his detention, Issawi wrote last month:

At 17, I was arrested for the first time, and jailed for two years. I was arrested again in my early 20s, at the height of the second intifada in Ramallah, during an Israeli invasion of numerous cities in the West Bank – what Israel called Operation Defensive Shield. I was sentenced to 30 years in prison on charges relating to my resistance to the occupation. [...]

After almost 10 years in prison, I was released in the Egypt-sponsored deal between Israel and Hamas to release the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for Palestinian prisoners. However, on 7 July 2012, I was arrested again near Hizma, an area within the municipality of Jerusalem, on charges of violating the terms of my release (that I should not leave Jerusalem). Others who were released as part of that deal were also arrested, some with no declared reason. Accordingly, I began a hunger strike on 1 August to protest against my illegal imprisonment and Israel's violation of the agreement.

In his "Hunger Speech" published online this week by the Hebron-based activist group Youth Against Settlements, Issawi appeals to Israelis and explains his refusal to be exiled from his homeland. He writes, in part:

I have not heard one of you interfere to stop the loud wail of death, it’s as if everyone of you has turned into gravediggers, and everyone wears his military suit: the judge, the writer, the intellectual, the journalist, the merchant, the academic, and the poet. And I cannot believe that a whole society was turned into guards over my death and my life, or guardians over settlers who chase after my dreams and my trees.

Israelis:

I will die satisfied and having satisfied. I do not accept to be deported out of my homeland. I do not accept your courts and your arbitrary rule.

A lawyer for Issawi, Jawad Bulous, also said that he refused to be sent to Gaza or any other country, AP reports.

A forcible transfer of Issawi to another country would violate the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Rights groups Addameer, Al-Haq and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel) have stated that because of "Israel’s use of administrative detention, and the lack of due process afforded to Palestinians in the military court system, a hunger strike represents the singlemost non-violent tool available to administrative detainees and other political prisoners to fight for their basic human rights."

Days before Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, PHR-Israel has issued a report on hunger strikes by Palestinian detainees in 2012.  The group writes:

During the hunger strikes, PHR-Israel witnessed various human rights violations, among others, violations of the right to health of hunger-striking prisoners and detainees, and violations of medicalethics and of professional health standards. Measures which amounted to medical, ethical and human rights violations endangered the lives of hunger striking prisoners almost to the point of death and prevented prisoners' access to independent medical advice and consultation. In our view, these violations are but a mere symptom of an overarching system that allows, or simply ignores, violations of prisoners' rights, some of which are even more egregious than those described here.  The failure of various institutions to appropriately address violations gives authorities a greenlight to continue crushing the rights of one of the most vulnerable populations.

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