Palestinian political prisoner Samer Issawi, gestures as he leaves Jerusalem's magistrates' court, February 2013(Photo: Reuters)
Palestinian political prisoner and resistance icon Samer Issawi is scheduled to be released to his home in Jerusalem on Monday after more than 17 months in Israeli detention.
Issawi ended his 277-day long hunger strike on 23, April 2013 after accepting a deal brokered by Israeli and Palestinian officials to serve eight months on charges of violating bail conditions for an earlier release.
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 release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
However, Issawi was rearrested July 2012 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.
Palestinian hunger strikes have posed a new challenge to the Israeli government, which has come under international criticism for its practice of detaining prisoners without trial.
A Free Samer Issawi Campaign was launched on 18, January 2013. Independent activist and campaign coordinator Abbas Hamideh said that the campaign spread like "wildfire," achieving a huge following within days. The campaign now has almost 11,000 followers.
"The reason we started this campaign was to bring Samer's plight to the world due to the mainstream media's silence on the matter. Samer was literally dying behind Israeli occupation jails and there was no time to waste and we needed a plan to get the word out and what better way than to utilise the social media network combined with activities on the ground," Hamideh told Ahram Online.
According to a report issued November by the Palestinian prisoner support and human rights association Addameer, at least 4,996 political prisoners are currently in Israeli prisons.