Mahmoud Sarsak wins his battle for freedom 20Jun12 June 20, 2012

Palestinian Information Centre  -   19 June 2012

RAMALLAH,(PIC)– The prisoner Mahmoud Sarsak has ended his courageous hunger strike that lasted for 95 days running after gaining a written promise to be released on 10 July, instead of an implicit promise to get released on 22 August 22.

Al Jazeera Net quoted Sarsak’s lawyer, Mohammed Jabareen, as saying that the agreement signed with the Prison Service in Ramla prison hospital stated that Sarsak has to end his three-month hunger strike in exchange for hospital treatment and an early release after losing more than half of his weight.

The agreement stated that Sarsak, a brilliant young member of the Palestinian national soccer team and resident of the Rafah refugee camp in Gaza, has to undertake not to go on hunger strike again under any circumstances before his release.

The detainee, 25, started his hunger strike on 19 March. In recent days, however, he has started taking vitamins, sugar and milk, because he was close to death, in return the prison authorities would study his file since his arrest, his lawyer said.

The Prison Authority asked not to renew his detention as what happened since his arrest on 22 July 2009 and released on 22 August, but Sarsak refused, and demanded his release next July, this is what was announced after complex legal discussions during the last twenty-four hours, he lawyer added.

The lawyer said that the prisoner succeeded in reducing a month and 12 days of his sentence and getting a written decision rather than a verbal promise.

Israel considered Sarsak, like most of the Palestinian prisoners who were arrested after the Gaza war 2009, an illegal fighter, and it stipulated in his release agreement to stop any “illegal activities”.

Over a week ago, Sarsak was persuaded to alleviate his hunger strike, after he lost half of his weight and he became unable to move or to see properly, and he risked damaging his organs for refusing to take any of the necessary vitamins.

Israel faced a wide international criticism for its continued detention of Sarsak and several Palestinian international players, where the Union of International Football Association (FIFA) and many international figures such as the American Noam Chomsky, and a group of international academics and artists have sent letters to international leaders to intervene to save Sarsak’s life.

Israel has arrested Sarsak in July 2009 when he was stopped at Erez crossing in the northern Gaza strip while on his way to join the Balata football team in the West Bank despite having a permit to cross.

According to Al-Damir for Human Rights, Sarsak underwent intensive interrogation in Ashkelon prison for 30 consecutive days, about his affiliation with the Islamic Jihad movement, without having any evidence of the charges and the prisoner did not recognize any of these charges.

The Israeli intelligence issued, on 23 August, 2009, an order to detain him under the so-called the “Unlawful Combatants Law “, a form of administrative detention, which authorizes arresting without charge or trial and without specifying the period of detention.

Since 2000, the “Unlawful Combatants Law” was used to imprison Palestinians from Gaza under harsher conditions than administrative detention.

Mahmoud Sarsak began his open hunger strike since 19 March, protesting against his continued detention without charge or trial. The Israeli prison service punished him by transferring him from Negev Desert prison to isolation in Beersheba prison.

Since 16 April, Sarsak lies in Ramla prison clinic due to his health deterioration, while occupation authorities refused several times to transfer him to a civilian hospital.

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