[Monday December 23, 2013] Samer Issawi, iconic Palestinian political prisoner and hunger strike organizer, was released today, following over 17 months in Shatta Prison.Family members said that Israeli forces raided his house, on Monday, and prohibited them from organizing any celebrations, the Ma’an News Agency has reported.
Israeli intelligence, accompanied by soldiers, raided Issawi’s family home near Jerusalem, a day after raiding the house to issue orders for his father and brother to report for interrogation by Israeli intelligence officers.
Furthermore, the soldiers reportedly added that no marching in celebration of his release would be tolerated at any hour of the day, their intention being to prevent neighbors and friends from welcoming Issawi home in the traditional way.
He was originally arrested by Israeli forces during the Second Intifada, but was among hundreds of prisoners released, in 2011, as part of a bargain for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
He subsequently launched a hunger strike against the renewed detention, ending the strike only after Israel agreed to release him.
Samer Issawi’s hunger strike was one of the longest, ever in history, and brought him close to death.
According to the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs, 5,200 Palestinians were being held in Israeli jails as of October, 2013. Another 1,280 are in Israeli prisons, allegedly for being inside Israel without permits.
Since 1967, more than 650,000 Palestinians have been detained by Israel.
Under international law, it is illegal to transfer prisoners outside of the occupied territory in which they are detained, and families face many obstacles in obtaining visting rights within the Israeli prison system.
The internationally recognized Palestinian territories, of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part, have been occupied by Israeli forces since 1967, with increasing violations and attacks by settlers in the region.
(Photo: Shireen Issawi, left, at a Ramallah protest in support of her brother,