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Lawyer: Al-Sarsak is still on hunger strike

June 12, 2012 5:02 P.M. (Updated: June 15, 2012 4:48 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Mahmoud al-Sarsak is on his 86th day of hunger strike but is drinking milk to prolong his life until his court hearing Thursday, his lawyer said Tuesday.

Mohammad Jabarein told Ma'an that Israeli prison officials called him to visit al-Sarsak urgently Sunday because he was in danger of dying. Al-Sarsak was briefly hospitalized that afternoon.

Jabarein met with 15 doctors at the hospital, who said al-Sarsak was at immediate danger of paralysis and losing consciousness.

"I decided that al-Sarsak must drink milk," Jabarein said.

Al-Sarsak was reluctant, but the lawyer said he persuaded him to accept some nutrients so he would survive until his judicial review, which is scheduled for Thursday.

Al-Sarsak agreed to drink milk but would only be fed by his lawyer.

The 25-year-old prisoner has decided that if the Supreme Court does not agree to release him he will refuse all supplements until his death, Jabarein said.

The judicial review Thursday is the "last chance" to save al-Sarsak's life, Jabarein said.

Israeli Prison Service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman told Ma'an that al-Sarsak had started eating Monday, and said she did not know why.

But his lawyer and the Palestinian Prisoners Society said he was only drinking milk. The prisoner rights group Addameer notes that consuming milk does not break a hunger strike.

A representative of Physicians for Human Rights - Israel told Ma'an that milk is less nutritious than other supplements consumed during a hunger strike, which include vitamins, minerals, salts and glucose.

Drinking milk will not reduce the danger to al-Sarsak's life, PHRI added.

PHRI submitted an appeal to the Petah Tikva district court on Monday requesting al-Sarsak's transfer to a civilian hospital. He is being held in Ramle prison clinic, which does not have the facilities to treat long-term hunger strikers.

Even if al-Sarsak ends his strike, he will still require urgent hospitalization, the medical organization added.

Al-Sarsak, a professional soccer player on Palestine's national team, has been detained without charge or trial since July 2009.

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