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After More Than 200 Days on Hunger Strike, Palestinian Gains Freedom

Deal designed to avoid massive unrest if Samir al-Assawi was to die in Israeli custody

Jon Queally, staff writer

Close to death after more than eight months on hunger strike a Palestinian man held by Israel will end his self-imposed fast following an agreement that will see him released to his home in Jerusalem.

Samir al-Assawi, who has gone more than 200 days without food, was protesting the Israeli practice of "administrative detention" which allows for the holding of prisoners for extended periods without trial.

Media reports suggests Israel became highly motivated to reach a settlement in order to prevent anticipated and widespread social unrest if Assawi was to die while still in custody and on strike. His cause was the source of numerous street protests in the West Bank and Gaza over recent weeks and months.

Assawi was among hundreds of other Palestinian prisoners who say their "indefinite detentions" and the deplorable jail conditions in which they live are simply another element of the Israeli occupation.

Reuters reports:

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, Qadura Fares, head of the Palestinian prisoner organization, told Reuters.


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Issawi's lawyer and sister conveyed the offer just before midnight to his bedside in Israel's Kaplan hospital, where he had been under Israeli guard and receiving intravenous vitamins but was refusing food.

Agence France-Presse adds:

Issawi's health has deteriorated significantly because of his prolonged fast, which he started in August 2012.

Israel holds around 4,700 Palestinians in its jails, including 169 in "administrative detention" -- a procedure which allows suspects to be held without charge for renewable periods of up to six months -- and 235 minors.

Issawi is the last of four Palestinian prisoners who were on extended hunger strikes in Israeli prisons, after two ended their fast in February and a third man from the West Bank was exiled last month to Gaza for 10 years.


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