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Longest-held Palestinian prisoner still detained despite completing sentence

Dec. 17, 2016 4:14 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 17, 2016 8:17 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities have not released 59-year-old Palestinian prisoner Nael Barghouthi despite him having served the entirety of his 30-month sentence, as the Israeli military prosecutor has submitted an appeal to keep him in prison.

Barghouthi has spent more than 35 years in prison, and was most recently freed in a 2011 swap deal between Israel and the Hamas movement to release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners held by Israeli -- and was among the more than 50 of the 1,000 who have since been redetained.

Israeli forces first detained Barghouthi in 1978 when he was 20 years old for alleged membership in an armed resistance group and redetained him in 2014, claiming that he had broken the terms of his release.

According to a statement Saturday by the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society, although his 30-month sentence ended last week, the Israeli military prosecutor has appealed against his release and asked the court instead to reinstate the original life sentence against Barghouthi.

PPS said that Barghouthi, who is from the village of Kobar in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, served 34 years in prison before he was released in the 2011 prisoners exchange, and after serving the latest 30-month sentence has become the longest-serving Palestinian prisoner in Israeli prison.

Since the Shalit deal, Israel has initiated mass detention campaigns to bring hundreds of former prisoners released in the exchange back into Israeli custody, in violation of the agreement.

Hamas has repeatedly insisted that Israel must release all prisoners who were freed as part of the deal but have since been redetained, before starting talks in a new prisoner swap deal.

According to Palestinian prisoners' rights group Addameer, some 7,000 Palestinians were held in Israeli custody as of October, 15 of whom were serving more than 25 years in prison.

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