After a long hearing session which took place in an Israeli hospital on Monday, the Palestinian prisoner Samer al-Issawi has agreed to bring an end to his hunger strike in exchange for his release in December 2013.
Al-Issawi is currently suffering from grave deterioration in his health as a result of his 270-day hunger strike in an Israeli jail. He was admitted to Kaplan Hospital in Jerusalem several weeks ago where the Israeli Military Prosecution held a hearing session for him yesterday.
The head of the legal unit in the Prisoners’ Club, the lawyer Jawad Bolos, said in a statement that the Israeli Military Prosecution “finally” agreed to Al-Issawi’s demands. Bolos said that demands included the annulment of Al-Issawi’s previous 20 years prison sentence.
Bolos’ statement also said: “Al-Issawi only accepted a 17 month-sentence to be counted from the date of his capture on July 7, 2012. Thereafter, he is to be released to his hometown of Jerusalem.”
The accepted sentence, according to the statement, would be issued by the military judge and there is no need for Al-Issawi to be heard by any other legal body in order to get additional amnesty.
The lawyer said that Al-Issawi’s best achievement was his persistence in refusing his previous sentence of 20 years. He also insisted on securing amnesty from the Israeli president. “This is a precedent for similar cases where the Israeli occupation tries to reinstate old charges for freed prisoners,” the statement said.
Over the last week, marathon talks have taken place between Al-Issawi and Israeli authorities. Given that Al-Issawi’s health condition continued to deteriorate, and he was expected to die at any time, especially as he had stopped taking supplementary vitamins, the Israeli side presented him with several offers.
After the latest agreement, Al-Issawi’s lawyer, accompanied by his sister Shireen who is also a lawyer, visited him. He has started to take the prescribed vitamins as a first step toward ending his strike.
Al-Issawi is a former prisoner who was released during the prisoners’ swap agreement reached between the Israelis and the Palestinians in late 2011.
During the swap, Israel released 1027 Palestinian prisoners around half of whom were serving life sentences. In exchange, Palestinian fighters released Corporal Gilad Shalit, who had been captured from a tank at a military post along the Israel-Gaza borders in 2006.
Israel rearrested a number of prisoners freed by the swap and drafted a military law that allows it to re-charge them.