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Hana Shalabi arrives in Gaza

April 1, 2012 5:54 P.M. (Updated: April 2, 2012 8:01 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Former hunger-striker Hana Shalabi was escorted Sunday through the Erez crossing between Israel and the northern Gaza Strip, a Ma'an reporter said.

She was exiled to Gaza temporarily in a deal with Israel to end her hunger strike. Palestinian officials have condemned Israel for displacing her from her native West Bank.

Relatives were allowed to meet with her for an hour, they said. Earlier, the the Palestinian Authority ministry of prisoners affairs said Shalabi's parents and other relatives would not be allowed to see her.

Shalabi was welcomed formally by various factions. She was later transferred by ambulance along with a medical crew to Shifa hospital, where her condition was described as no longer life-threatening.

Shalabi, from Jenin, ended a 43-day hunger strike on Thursday after reaching a deal with Israeli authorities that she will be deported to Gaza for three years before returning home.

Palestinian human rights groups, meanwhile, say they are alarmed by the deal and Israel's refusal to deny them access to Shalabi in the days leading up to her release.

A joint statement from Addameer and PHR-Israel said they fear that the restriction of access of to Shalabi’s physician and lawyers, in addition to the prevention of family visits, were used as coercion.

"Shalabi deserves utmost respect for her steadfastness in her hunger strike," they said.

While her release from administrative detention should be welcomed, the groups "are obligated to highlight their concerns with those aspects of the deal that are fundamentally at odds with international law."

The terms of such expulsions violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits forcible transfers and deportations of protected persons, the rights groups noted.

Unlawful deportation or transfer also constitutes a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention "and qualifies as one of the most serious war crimes," the joint release said.

Issa Qaraqe, the PA prisoners minister, said that deporting Shalabi was a war crime and that she was exposed to a pressure to end the strike that she continued for over 40 days.

Former hunger-striker Khader Adnan, from Ramla prison clinic, sent a message via his lawyer saying that her strike had inspired women and all prisoners to face administrative detention. He said deportation - from the Nativity siege 10 years ago until today - is wrong, but "Hana's decision was right."
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