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Israeli forces raid Samer Issawi house, 'ban' release celebration

Dec. 23, 2013 3:58 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 25, 2013 3:39 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces on Monday raided the house of a prominent Palestinian prisoner due to be released later today and "banned" his family from organizing any celebrations, family members said.

Israeli intelligence officers accompanied by soldiers raided Samer Issawi's family home in Issawiya village near Jerusalem on Monday morning, a day after they raided his house to issue orders for his father and brother to meet with Israeli intelligence for interrogation.

On Monday, Israeli forces barred the family from organizing any celebrations, family members told Ma'an.

The soldiers reportedly added that no march celebrating his release would be tolerated in the neighborhood at any hour of the day, stating their intention to prevent neighbors and friends from welcoming him home in the traditional way.

An Israeli army spokeswoman did not return calls seeking comment.

Authorities are expected to release Samer Issawi from Israeli prison on Monday, the Palestinian Prisoners' Society said on Sunday.

Issawi will be released as part of an agreement in which he ended a 266-day hunger strike in April, during which time he became an international cause célèbre who focused attention on the plight of the thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

Issawi's hunger strike was one of the longest in history, and brought him close to death.

Prior to reaching the agreement that secured his pending release, Israeli authorities offered him a number of agreements that involved deportation to Gaza, a reduced prison term, and deportation to Europe. Issawi, however, refused until Israel relented and allowed him to return to his Jerusalem home after serving eight more months.

He was originally arrested by Israeli forces during the Second Intifada, but was among hundreds of prisoners released in 2011 as part of a deal to release Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

The release agreement confined him to Jerusalem, but he was re-arrested in July 2012 after traveling to a village that is mostly in Jerusalem but also partially in the West Bank.

He subsequently launched a hunger strike against the renewed detention, and only concluded the strike after Israel agreed to release him.

5,200 Palestinians were being held in Israeli jails as of Oct. 2013, according to the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs. Another 1,280 are in Israeli prisons for being inside Israel without permits.

Since 1967, more than 650,000 Palestinians have been detained by Israel, representing 20 percent of the total population and 40 percent of all males in the occupied territories.

Under international law, it is illegal to transfer prisoners outside of the occupied territory in which they are detained, and the families of Palestinian prisoners' face many obstacles in obtaining permits to see their imprisoned relatives.

The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.
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