A terrorist freed from prison after an eight-month hunger strike has declared victory.
Ayman Sharawna told the Bethlehem-based Ma'an news that his release “felt like a victory over the occupation.”
“No one can free a Palestinian prisoner but his persistence, determination and strength… I was able to stay strong and defeat the Israeli occupation,” he added.
Sharawana was deported to Gaza, rather than his family’s home in Hevron, under the terms of his release. He said he plans to bring his family to the area to join him.
He reported receiving a warm welcome from Gaza residents. Sharawna is a member of Hamas, the terrorist group that currently controls Gaza.
Sharawna (also spelled Sharouna) was arrested in 2002 and sentenced to 38 years in prison for his role in multiple terrorist attacks, including a bombing in Be’er Sheva that wounded 18 people. He was released early, in 2011, as part of the deal to free captive soldier Gilad Shalit.
He was rearrested in 2012 after returning to an active role in Hamas in violation of his release terms. Israeli prosecutors sought to force him to serve the remainder of his 38-year sentence, but he was ultimately released as his health deteriorated due to a hunger strike.
Israel has released several terrorist prisoners from jail after hunger strikes in what has become a known prison phenomenon. While the European Union has expressed concern for the prisoners’ health, some have said that Israel should simply let them starve.