[Ppnews] Israel court refuses release of hunger striker Samer Issawai

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Feb 19 12:04:50 EST 2013

  Israel court defers release of hunger striker

February 19,2013

Palestinian hunger striker Samer Issawi has appeared in an Israeli 
court, where his lawyers attempted to get him released on bail, as 
hundreds protest across the West Bank.

Gaunt and wheelchair-bound, Issawi appeared on Tuesday before a 
Jerusalem civil court, which deferred releasing him for at least another 

"This is the third time [Issawi] has appeared in court to try to get out 
on bail, the previous two times were rejected," Al Jazeera's Nicole 
Johnston reported from Jerusalem.

"His family and lawyers ... seem to think that Israel will not allow him 
to die because that could lead to huge protests across the West Bank."

Issawi has been refusing food for more than 200 days, in protest of 
Israel's policy of 'administrative detention,' which allows authorities 
to detain Palestinians without charge or trial indefinitely.

His rapidly deteriorating health, caused by his recent refusal of water 
and vitamins, has brought international attention to his case and put 
Israel's detention policies under the spotlight.

Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said: "Persons 
detained must be charged and face trial with judicial guarantees in 
accordance with international standards, or be promptly released."

*Growing public anger*

The worsening health of Issawi and other prisoners on hunger strike in 
Israeli jails has led to several mass protests across the occupied 
Palestinian territories, some of which resulted in clashes with the 
Israeli army.

Activists report that hundreds of Palestinians began a protest at the 
International Committee of the Red Cross in Ramallah and then moved to 
Israel's Ofer prison, in the West Bank.

Palestinian medical sources told Al Jazeera that at least 10 
Palestinians were wounded by rubber-coated steel bullets fired by 
Israeli soldiers - two in their heads.

Another protester was shot in the leg with live ammunition and ten are 
being treated for tear gas suffocation.

Amani Srahna of the Palestinian Prisoners Club says 800 inmates in three 
prisons are participating in Tuesday's one-day hunger strike in 
solidarity on Tuesday.

On Monday, more than 1,000 people rallied in the northern city of Nablus 
and another 1,500 gathered in the centre of the southern city of 
Hebronto demand their release.

Dozens of Palestinian youths also blocked the entrance to the UN offices 
in Ramallah, but Palestinian police prevented them from entering the 

With public anger growing over the fate of the prisoners, Palestinian 
negotiator Saeb Erakat wrote to EU foreign policy chief Catherin Ashton 
urging action to improve treatment of prisoners and secure their release.

"We believe it is no longer acceptable to merely request better 
treatment of Palestinians in Israeli occupation prisons, but to demand 
an end to the arbitrary system of Israeli detentions," Erakat said in 
the letter.

Flagging the deteriorating health of the four prisoners on hunger strike 
- Samer Issawi, Tareq Qaadan, Jafar Ezzedine and Ayman Sharawna - Erakat 
said the Palestinians would hold Israel "fully responsible" if one of 
them died.

Meanwhile, in occupied east Jerusalem, Israeli police staged an 
overnight raid on Issawi's family home, arresting his brother Shaadi, 
the family and police said.

Police confirmed the arrest, but refused to give further details.

*Controversial rearrests*

Issawi, 33, and Sharawna, 36, were long-term prisoners who were released 
in October 2011 under the prisoner swap deal where more than 1,000 
Palestinians were released in exchange for captured Israeli soldier 
Gilad Shalit.

But within months, they were both re-arrested following unspecified 
allegations that they violated the terms of the agreement, with Israel 
ordering them to serve out the remainder of their original sentences.

"Issawi is one of more than 10 prisoners rearrested after the prisoner 
exchange deal," Johnston reported.

"Israel says he broke the conditions of his release by entering the West 
Bank, where he was not allowed to be."

His family denies that he left the municipality of Jerusalem.

"This is a very controversial issue for Palestinians, they thought the 
prisoner exchange deal was guaranteed by Egypt, but now they see that an 
Israeli military law came into effect around the same time which allows 
Israel to rearrest these prisoners and... serve out the remainder of 
their original sentences," Johnston said.

Statistics published by Israeli rights group B'Tselem show that at the 
end of 2012, 4,500 Palestinians were being held in Israeli jails.

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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