BREAKING: Palestinian to end hunger strike for freedom: Lawyer

AFP , Tuesday 23 Apr 2013

Agreement reached for Samer Issawi to be released eight months after he ends hunger strike

An Israeli-held Palestinian prisoner on a life-threatening hunger strike has agreed to end his protest in return for his release, his lawyer said on Tuesday.

Samer Issawi, who is serving a sentence for militant activity and has intermittently refused food since August 2012, would be freed eight months from when he ends his strike, Jawad Boulos told AFP.

The 33-year-old, currently in critical condition in a hospital near Tel Aviv, began taking vitamins again late on Monday after the agreement was reached with the authorities, Boulos said.

The deal will allow him to return to his home neighbourhood of Issawiya in east Jerusalem, and will be finalised later on Tuesday.

Israel had initially offered Issawi's immediate release on condition he be exiled to the Hamas-governed Gaza Strip, and even proposed exiling him to an EU member state.

Issawi rejected both those proposals.

Issawi was first arrested in 2002 and sentenced to 26 years for militant activity in the leftist Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

He was released under a prisoner swap in October 2011, but rearrested in July for violating the terms of the agreement by travelling to the Israeli-occupied West Bank from annexed Arab east Jerusalem.

An Israeli official said that Issawi had gone to the West Bank to establish "terror cells."

Israel has ordered that he serve the remainder of his original sentence.

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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