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Israel arrests brother of Palestinian hunger-striker Issawi

Tel Aviv regime detains brother of Samer Issawi, Palestinian prisoner whose ongoing hunger strike – now in its 209th day – represents the longest in recorded history

Ahram Online , Sunday 17 Feb 2013
Samer Issawi
Palestinians hold placards depicting prisoner Samer al-Issawi, who has been on hunger strike for 209 days, during a protest in the West Bank city of Ramallah, calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, February 17, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)
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Israeli authorities arrested Shady Issawi, brother of Palestinian hunger-striker Samer Issawi, at dawn from his home, The Free Samer Issawi Campaign's Facebook page reported on Sunday.

"Our heart tonight is with Um Ra'fat Samer Issawi's mother, who pleaded to the world earlier today for help to release her son Samer. She sits tonight with her three sons in jail for no other crime than being Palestinian," the campaign statement declared.

On Saturday, the campaign published a message from Samer Issawi, now in his 209th day on hunger strike in an Israeli prison.

Issawi stated that his health had deteriorated dramatically, asserting that he was now “hanging between life and death.”

“I will continue until the end, until the last drop of water in my body, until martyrdom,” Issawi said. “My weak body is collapsing, but I’m still able to be patient and continue resistance.”

Issawi added that doctors had warned him that he might suffer a stroke due to declining sugar levels and falling blood pressure.

“Do not be afraid for my heart if it stops; don’t fear for my hands if they’re paralysed. I am still alive now, and tomorrow, and after death, because Jerusalem is in my blood, in my devotion, and in my faith,” Issawi concluded.

Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar reported last week that Issawi had stopped drinking water, taking vitamins and was boycotting all medical treatment.

The newspaper added that a doctor had informed Issawi that his heart could stop functioning "at any time" due to water shortage.

Issawi was released as part of an Egypt-brokered prisoner swap between Hamas and Israeli authorities in October 2011. That deal led to the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.

However, Issawi was rearrested in July of last year under Israel’s so-called administrative detention law. The law, which has been in place since the end of the British mandate in Palestine in 1948, allows for the arrest of Palestinians if they are deemed a "threat" to Israel's national security.

Amnesty International has demanded that Israel either charge or release all those currently interred under the administrative detention law, and end practises that allow for the indefinite renewal of detention for additional six-month periods.

A Palestinian source told the German Press Agency last month that Egypt was currently in talks with Israel over hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners.

While the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority has called on Cairo to intervene diplomatically to secure the prisoners’ release, no concrete results have been seen until now.

The scope of the ongoing hunger strike has posed a new challenge to the Tel Aviv regime, which has come under international criticism for its practice of detaining prisoners without trial.

Earlier this week, Akram Al-Rikhawi, a Palestinian prisoner who staged a hunger strike last year, was released from an Israeli prison and allowed to return to his home in the Gaza Strip. 

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