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Samer Issawi transferred to hospital

Feb. 27, 2013 9:25 P.M. (Updated: March 2, 2013 6:36 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Prison authorities transferred detainee Samer Issawi from Ramle prison to a hospital in Israel after 210 days on hunger strike, an Israeli official said late Wednesday.

Sivan Weizman, a spokeswoman for the Israel Prison Service, told Ma'an that Issawi was taken to Kaplan medical center in Rahavot, but she said his condition was stable and the move was unrelated to any specific decline.

"He's been on hunger strike for a long time, and medical staff at the IPS decided to move him," Weissman said. "It's better that he be in a hospital."

Palestinian Authority prisoners minister Issa Qaraqe confirmed that Issawi had been hospitalized.

"The Israeli side has begun dialogue today to find a solution to this issue, but so far they have not presented an acceptable offer," Qaraqe told reporters in Ramallah, adding that Issawi and Ayman Sharawna had refused an offer to be freed and deported.

Aside from a brief suspension in December, Sharawna has been on hunger strike since July.

Issawi and Sharawna were rearrested after being granted amnesty in the Oct. 2011 prisoner swap agreement between Israel and Hamas.

Israeli military prosecutors are trying to reinstate their former sentences.

Earlier Tuesday, Qaraqe said the Palestinian Authority had requested Cairo's intervention to secure the prisoners' release.

Egypt brokered the 2011 prisoner exchange, and has been in constant contact with Israel over the hunger strikers, but "until now there are no results," Qaraqe said.

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