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Hunger-striker, freed by Israel, returns to Gaza

Feb. 7, 2013 7:07 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 11, 2013 10:07 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A Palestinian prisoner who spent 100 days on hunger strike last year was released to the Gaza Strip on Thursday.

Akram Rekhawi crossed through the Erez crossing into Gaza to a public reception of political officials after nine years in Israeli jail.

In a short address, Rekhawi stressed the need to support other Palestinians on hunger strike in Israeli jails, noting the difficult conditions in Ramle prison hospital.

The 39-year-old, from Rafah, was then transferred to Dar al-Shifa hospital by ambulance for a medical check-up.

A father of eight, Rekhawi suffers from diabetes, asthma and osteoporosis and has been held in Ramle prison clinic throughout his detention since 2004.

After 102 days on hunger strike, Rekhawi restarted eating in July after prison authorities agreed to release him six months early. When he wasn't released on Jan. 25 Rekhawi resumed the strike in protest. An Israeli court then agreed to free him last Wednesday.

Three other Palestinians are on long-term hunger strike to protest their detention.

Samer Issawi, from East Jerusalem, this week stopped drinking water after refusing food for 190 days. Jafar Azzidine and Tarek Qaadan have been on hunger strike for 72 days.

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