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Gaza rally demands release of hunger strikers

Dec. 13, 2012 3:54 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 14, 2012 5:42 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Protesters rallied in Gaza City on Thursday demanding the release of long-term hunger strikers from Israeli jails.

Ayman Sharawneh has been on hunger strike for 166 days and Samer al-Issawi has refused food for 135 days. Both were rearrested after their release in Oct. 2011 in a prisoner swap deal between Hamas and Israel.

The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine organized the march from UN headquarters to the offices of the Red Cross in Gaza City calling on Israel to abide by the prisoner exchange and free both men.

DFLP leader Ibrahim Mansour said both prisoners were risking death to defend freedom and rights for themselves and all Palestinians.

Mansour said Palestinians would achieve victory in the issue of prisoners as they had at the United Nations and in Israel's 8-day war on Gaza in November.

He urged Egypt to pressure Israel to release all Palestinian detainees, especially those previously freed in the prisoner exchange that Cairo mediated.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Ma'an the rally sent a message to the prisoners and their families that Palestinians stood beside them in their struggle. "We will not abandon our prisoners," he said.

Abu Zuhri called on the international community to intervene to end the suffering of Palestinians jailed in Israel.

DFLP central committee member Talal Abu Tharefa said that hunger strikes of 166 and 135 days should "move the conscience of the world."

Abu Tharefa called for more solidarity events for Palestinian prisoners to pressure the international community to secure Sharawneh and Issawi's release as soon as possible.
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