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PLC asks Egypt to 'urgently press' Israel on Samer Issawi release

Egypt has to interfere and press Israel to release hunger-striker Samer Issawi, leading PLC figure says

Ahram Online , Monday 8 Apr 2013
Samer Issawi
A file photo of Samer Issawi, who went on hunger strike since 261 consecutive days, in an Israeli court (Photo: The Free Samer Issawi Campaign's Facebook page)
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Ahmed Al-Bahr, First Deputy to the President of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), called on Egypt to "urgently interfere and press" Israel to release the Palestinian hunger-striker Samer Issawi, Egypt's state-run news agency MENA reported on Monday.

"Issawi was released in a prisoner swap deal brokered by Egypt, but he was arrested later", MENA quoted Al-Bahr as saying during a conference in Gaza.

"The Zionist enemy understands only the language of power, and we have to unite together or otherwise our prisoners in Israeli jails will never be released," he asserted.

A Palestinian source told the German Press Agency (DPA) in January 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 for the Tel Aviv regime, adding fuel to the fire of international criticism for arresting Palestinians and skipping due process.

In October 2011, Issawi, then serving the ninth year of a 30-year jail sentence for involvement in resistance activities against Israel, was released as part of an Egypt-brokered prisoner swap between Hamas and Israeli authorities.

That deal led to the highly-publicised release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.

Issawi was rearrested in July of last year under Israel’s so-called administrative detention law. Issawi has now been on hunger strike for a consecutive 261 days.

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.

The Free Samer Issawi Campaign on Facebook reported on Sunday that medics notified Issawi that he is currently facing the risk of brain damage and sudden death after he refused water supplements on Saturday.

"The prisoner started refusing supplements after an Israeli guard refused to allow him to sit by a window in his hospital room. Doctors had advised Issawi to expose his body to sunshine," the campaign said.

Last month, Arab League Secretary-General Nabil El-Arabi described the health condition of Issawi as 'heartbreaking" during a conference organised by the American University in Cairo.

"I saw a picture of Issawi before and after the hunger strike he started in August 2012 during my last visit to the West Bank; he is in real danger," El-Arabi said.

El-Arabi says some Palestinian prisoners have spent almost thirty years in Israeli jails but did not commit any specific crimes, which reflects Israel's "violation of all rules and regulations of international law."

"Israel has historically insisted on procrastinating and rejecting all Palestinian demands made during peace talks concerning the refugee crisis, right of return and settlements dilemma," he said.

"Israel cannot claim that the conflict involves disputed territories. By definition of international law, Palestinian lands are now regarded as occupied territories," he argues.

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