Hunger-striking Palestinian Prisoner Calls on Israelis to Push for His Release

Samer Issawi, who has refused solid food for eight months in protest of his imprisonment in Israel, directs a message on Facebook to Israeli activists and intellectuals, calling on them to intervene and help free him.

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

A Palestinian prisoner of Israel who is extremely weak following a prolonged hunger strike has called on Israelis to push for his release.

Security prisoner Samer Issawi has refused solid food for eight months and is now in Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot because of his deteriorating medical condition. On Wednesday, he put a message on Facebook, urging Israelis to pressure their leaders to release him.

Issawi, who was one of the 1,027 prisoners released from Israeli prison in the deal for the freedom of Gilad Shalit, was re-arrested last August for violating the terms of his release. Shortly after his return to prison, he began a hunger strike, and now receives only liquids fortified with vitamins, which are keeping him alive. The doctors treating him say his condition has deteriorated drastically and there is a real threat to his life.

In a message on the social networking site directed at Israeli activists and intellectuals, Issawi wrote:

"I Invite you to visit me in the hospital and see me as a skeleton handcuffed to the bed. Three exhausted jailers around me eat and drink by my bed. The guards follow my pains and gradually growing weight loss. Occasionally they look at their watches and ask: 'How can such a body have anything left to survive?'"

In his letter, Issawi reiterated his determination to refuse any sort of compromise such as being expelled to Gaza or a third country. He made the same claim in a meeting on Tuesday with his lawyer and MK Mohammed Barakeh of the Arab Hadash party. He insists on returning home, he says, even if it costs him his life.

Tomorrow the Palestinian Prisoners Society will hold a special press conference where they are expected to announce further steps to protest Issawi's detention, and possibly will update the press on efforts for his release.

"I am Samer Issawi, the 'Araboosh' man according to your army term, the same Jerusalemite who you threw in jail without any justifiable reason except that he decided to leave Jerusalem for the outskirts of Jerusalem," the statement on Facebook read. "I will be put on trial twice without any reason since the IDF and Shin Bet are those who control your country and all the other parts of Israeli society are hiding inside the fortress that guards the purity of identity ... I haven't heard a single one of you intervene and try to silence the voice of the growing death as all of you have turned into gravediggers, wearing military uniforms: The judge, writer, intellectual, media, merchant, academic, poet. I am unable to believe that an entire society has turned into the jailers of my death and life, to the protectors of the settlers who are pursuing my dreams."

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