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Hunger Striking Terrorist May be Released Next Month

An Israeli court gives hunger striker Samer Issawi eight months for violating his parole. A military court may still sentence him for years.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 2/22/2013, 5:11 AM

Samer Issawi gestures as he leaves the Jerusalem Magistrates Court
Samer Issawi gestures as he leaves the Jerusalem Magistrates Court
Reuters

An Israeli court on Thursday handed a Palestinian Authority Arab hunger striker eight months for violating his parole.

The terrorist, Samer Issawi, has already served most of his sentence and as such may be released at the beginning of March, but his fate still lies with a military court.

At the Jerusalem Magistrates Court, Issawi, who was released in October of 2011 as part of the Shalit deal, was convicted of breaching the terms of his early release by entering the PA-assigned areas of Judea and Samaria.

However, because of a military order governing the terms of his release, Issawi's fate will only be determined by a second hearing at an Israeli military court on March 21.

That hearing could see him being sent back to jail for years.

Issawi was initially arrested in 2002 and sentenced to 26 years for terrorist activities on behalf of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, but he won early release in October 2011 as part of the Shalit deal which saw 1,027 terrorist prisoners freed.

Issawi was rearrested in July and has been on hunger strike since August 1 in protest.

Depending on the outcome of the March 21 hearing, Issawi could be forced to serve the remaining 16 years of his original sentence.

His sentencing by the Magistrates Court came hours after hundreds of Arabs rioted outside the gates of Ofer Prison, where he is being imprisoned. They were part of some 1,000 Arabs who marched from the nearby village of Beitounia, demanding that Israel release hunger-striking Arab terrorists being held in Israeli prisons.

The Arabs were throwing stones and bricks at Israeli security officials, causing two Israeli reporters to be hurt. Both were taken to hospitals in Jerusalem for treatment.

PA Arab terrorist prisoners have turned hunger striking into a pressure tactic aimed at forcing Israel to release them out of fear for their lives.

Israel has several times in the past caved to the pressure and released some hunger strikers.

On Tuesday, United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon said he was "deeply concerned" about the hunger strikers, singling out the case of Issawi.

Along with Issawi, three other terrorist prisoners are currently on a long-term hunger strike: Tareq Qaadan, Jafar Ezzedine and Ayman Sharawna.

On Saturday, the European Union called for Israel's "full respect of international human rights obligations towards all Palestinian detainees and prisoners."

Last year some 2,000 terrorist prisoners went on a mass hunger strike, resulting in an agreement with Israeli authorities.

As part of that deal, Israel made some concessions to the PA, including an agreement to stop placing prisoners in solitary confinement.

In addition, Israel agreed to allow prisoners to call relatives, to pursue academic studies, and to allow prisoners from Gaza as well as from Judea and Samaria to receive visits from family members.

The deal also included a release of the bodies of 91 terrorists to the PA.