Israel Agrees to Release Hunger-striking Palestinian Soccer Player

Palestinian prisoner Mahmoud Sarsak ends three-month hunger strike after Israel agrees to release him on July 10.

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A Palestinian prisoner who has been on hunger strike for 88 days ended his fast Monday, after the Israeli authorities agreed to release him on July 10, Palestinian Minister of Prisoners Affairs Issa Qaraqi said.

Mahmoud Sarsak, 25, a member of the Palestinian national football team, had begun taking liquids, preparatory to ending his hunger strike, last week.

Sarsak, from the Gaza Strip, was arrested in July 2009 while on his way to take part in a football match in the West Bank. Israel accused him of being affiliated with the radical Islamic Jihad organization.

He received on-off intravenous drips throughout his fast, but rejected a May 14 deal which ended a mass month-long hunger strike by other Palestinian prisoners.

He insisted on being given prisoner-of-war status, since he was detained under Israel's Unlawful Combatants Law, which allows for Palestinians from Gaza to be detained indefinitely without charge or trial.

The law authorizes the state to detain foreign nationals who belong to terrorist organizations or have participated directly or indirectly in hostile actions against the state of Israel.

The Islamic Jihad, which rejects Israel's right to exist, has carried out scores of attacks - including suicide bombings - against Israelis.

Al-Sarsak also rejected an Israeli offer to exile him to Norway for three months.

Palestinians hold posters showing Mahmoud Sarsak, center, a former player with the Palestinian national football team in Jenin on June 9, 2012.Credit: AP

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