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Middle East

Tension mounts over hunger striker on his 88th day without food

media Palestinians hold posters depicting prisoners Mahmoud Al-Sarsak (R) and … Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Jailed Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Sarsak suspended his hunger strike of almost ninety days on Monday evening, in anticipation of a potential release deal tomorrow.

Sarsak, who is part of the Palestinian National football team, agreed to take fluids such as milk and soup in order to sustain him until an agreement is given, which could see him released after three years.

Dossier: Gaza 2009

UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk stated Friday that the Israeli Prison Service, must either charge Sarsak or release him.

Mourad Jallah of the prisoners rights association, Addameer, spoke to RFI:

“They want to release Mahmoud Sarsak because his health condition is very bad these days, and he might be the first of the Palestinian prisoners to pass away in the Israeli jails in [sic] 2002 because of the hunger strike.”

Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails previously issued a statement saying that they would refuse food on Monday in solidarity with Sarsak and two other long-term hunger strikers; Akram Rekhawi, who has refused food for 62 days and Samer al-Barq.

Barq was one of the brokers of the deal ending the mass hunger strike of 2,000 prisoners, but reinstated his hunger strike 21 days ago when his administrative detention order was renewed following the deal.

Rights groups such as Addameer and prisoners are waiting to see if the Israeli Prison Service implements parts of the deal that appear to have been successful, such as ending solitary confinement.

Yet Jallah also told RFI that they are concerned about the continuing use of administrative detention orders:

“We’ve noticed that since the agreement… the Israeli authorities have used [them] in a mass way, if you can say that. They renewed the administrative detention orders against the Palestinian prisoners.”

Addameer states that this practice has applied to at least 35 cases. Administrative detention permits detention without charge.

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