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PA minister says Issawi condition serious but stable

Feb. 13, 2013 4:56 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 15, 2013 4:56 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Jailed hunger striker Samer Issawi is in a serious but stable condition, the Palestinian Authority minister of detainee affairs said Wednesday.

Issa Qaraqe told Ma'an that Issawi, who has been on hunger strike for 196 days, stopped taking vitamins and sugar supplements three weeks ago, and is now only drinking water.

Fadi Abedat, a lawyer for the Ministry of Prisoner Affairs, visited Issawi at Ramle prison clinic on Tuesday and said he has severe leg, kidney, head and chest pains and a slow pulse. He is also unable to move or sleep.

Noura Erekat, a legal advocacy coordinator for the Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Refugee and Residency Rights, said Tuesday that Issawi's "real crime" was his audacity "to protest the forced removal of Palestinians from their homes and lands by Israel, and their degrading treatment by an Israeli regime that treats them like criminals until proven innocent."

"He joins a mounting number of Palestinian political prisoners who have chosen the hunger strike as their primary protest tactic, in line with President Barack Obama's call to follow the example of Blacks who used ‘peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals of America's founding’ to achieve full equal rights in the US. Israel, however, has not responded positively to these compelling, nonviolent gestures," she said in a statement.

“Israel holds Samer in administrative detention, or indefinite detention, on unknown charges. Administrative detention is applied almost exclusively to Palestinians, as Israeli military law does not apply to Jewish Israelis, and has been described by the UN Committee to End Racial Discrimination as tantamount to 'apartheid and segregation.' Since 1967, Israel has detained no less than 20% of the Palestinian population of the occupied territories, 200 of whom have died in captivity."

Issawi was released in the Oct. 2011 prisoner swap agreement between Israel and Hamas, which secured the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit from Gaza.

He was rearrested on July 7 and accused of violating the terms of his release by leaving Jerusalem. Israeli prosecutors are seeking to cancel his amnesty and detain him for 20 years, the remainder of his previous sentence.
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