Ma’an News has reported a PA Ministry of Detainee Affairs warning from Sunday that a prisoner on hunger strike for 70 days is suffering deteriorating health.Mahmoud al-Sarsak, a 25-year-old soccer player in Palestine’s national team, has been on hunger strike since March 19 in protest at his detention without charge.
Al-Sarsak was detained in July 2009 while leaving the Gaza Strip to join his team in the West Bank He was interrogated for 30 days in Ashkelon prison.
After Israeli intelligence failed to file any charge against him, he was detained under the ‘unlawful combatant law,’ the ministry said in a statement.
Al-Sarsak is the only prisoner in Israel detained under the ‘unlawful combatant law,’ under which detainees are held without charge or trial.
It provides ‘even fewer legal protections than Palestinians held in administrative detention,’ the prisoner rights group Addameer says.
The ministry says Israel offered to release al-Sarsak on July 12 but he is insisting the proposal is made in writing. An earlier offer to release al-Sarsak on July 1 was subsequently retracted by Israel, Addameer has further stated.
According to the ministry, al-Sarsak rejected a proposal to release him into exile in Norway.
Al-Sarsak’s father on Friday appealed to the international sporting community to show solidarity with his son.
In a letter, al-Sarsak’s father said it was ‘unbearable’ for his family to see Israel awarded the hosting of the UEFA under-21s soccer championship and preparing to join the London Olympics ‘while it routinely arrests, tortures, imprisons and kills Palestinians, including football players, without consequence.’
‘This is not fair play. Sports should show solidarity,’ he wrote.