Samer Issawi sentenced to 8 months in prison

12:00 Feb 21 2013 Israeli Magistrates' Court, Jerusalem

Samer Issawi sentenced to 8 months in prison Samer Issawi sentenced to 8 months in prison Samer Issawi sentenced to 8 months in prison
Palestinians protesters hold portraits of Samer Issawi, a Palestinian prisoner who has been on hunger strike for more than 200 days, outside the Red Cross offices in Jerusalem on February 14, 2013. Photo by AFP

Samar Issawi, photo published in Haaretz

Samer al Eesawy (image by PNN)

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- An Israeli court on Thursday sentenced hunger-striker Samer Issawi to eight months in prison, but he has yet to face a military committee which could imprison him for 20 years.

Issawi has been on hunger strike for 204 days.

The magistrates court in Jerusalem sentenced Issawi for leaving Jerusalem, in violation of the terms of his amnesty granted in an Oct. 2011 prisoner exchange deal.

The sentence includes time served since Issawi's re-arrest in July 2012, and will conclude on March 6, but Issawi also faces a possible sentence under an Israeli military order which allows a special military committee to cancel prisoners' amnesty.

The committee could use secret evidence to sentence Issawi to serve 20 years, the remainder of his previous sentence.

Issawi was freed in an Oct. 2011 prisoner swap for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Israel has subsequently re-arrested at least 14 prisoners since the deal.

Ahead of Thursday's verdict, Israeli forces clashed with hundreds of Palestinians protesting near Ramallah on Thursday in solidarity with long-term hunger strikers like Issawi.

A Ma'an reporter said 29 protesters were injured by rubber-coated bullets and dozens more suffered tear gas inhalation.

Prisoners minister Issa Qaraqe and Fatah central committee member Mahmoud al-Aloul joined the rally, near Israel's Ofer prison in the central West Bank.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said soldiers used "riot dispersal means" against Palestinians who hurled rocks at forces.

Protests have been held across the West Bank and in Gaza in support of Issawi, who has been on hunger strike for 204 days, and Tareq Qaadan and Jaafar Azzidine who have refused food for 86 days.

Also Thursday, the Ahmed Abu Rish Brigades on Thursday threatened to fire rockets at Israel if any jailed hunger striker is harmed.

"We will continue to work with rockets and we will not stand by idly. Military operations will be implemented to achieve the rights of prisoners and to free them," brigades member Abu Ali al-Qawkabi said in a statement.

Al-Qawkabi called on Palestinian leaders in Ramallah to reject any negotiations with Israel and urged the Gaza government to refuse a truce until the detainees' demands are met.

Islamic Jihad meanwhile has said a truce with Israel could unravel if any hunger striker dies.

On Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority called on the international community to step up efforts to protect and release prisoner like Issawi in Israeli detention facilities.

The cabinet also called on the World Health Organization to move forward on plans made last year to form a fact-finding committee to investigate the conditions in Israeli jails, specifically negligence.


Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike given 8 month sentence

Samar Issawi, who has been on hunger strike since August, was released in the Gilad Shalit deal and then rearrested; citing classified evidence of another violation, prosecutors argued that he should serve out the remainder of his original sentence.

By Nir Hasson for Haaretz

Jerusalem Magistrate's Court Judge Eitan Kornhauser sentenced Samar Issawi, a Palestinian prisoner who has been on a hunger strike for over 200 days, on Thursday to 8 months imprisonment for violating the terms of his release.

Issawi has been on a hunger strike since August, demanding his release. For the last few months he has been hospitalized in a police hospital and fed intravenously.

Demands for his release have led to demonstrations in the West Bank. Some 1,000 Palestinians gathered in the West Bank town of Beitounia on Thursday morning for a mass protest march to Israel's Ofer military prison in support of the administrative detainees now on hunger strik

Considering the time he has already been incarcerated, Issawi's sentence means his imprisonment will end in two weeks.

However, military prosecutors, citing classified evidence, claimed that Issawi has reverted to prohibited activities. Since this would be a violation of the terms of his release, the prosecutors argued that he should serve out the remainder of his original sentence.

Issawi was originally sentenced to 26 years in prison for his involvement in firing shots at passing vehicles.

He was released a year and a half ago as part of the deal to free Gilad Shalit, with the stipulation that he does not enter the West Bank. In early July he was stopped at the A-Ram roadblock outside Ramallah, and arrested for violating the terms of his release.

In court on Thursday, Issawi's lawyers argued that he had been caught in Ma'aleh Adumim, a neighborhood of Jerusalem that lies beyond the Green Line. As a holder of an Israeli identity card he was entitled to be there, they claimed.

His attorney Andre Rosenthal told the court that he was there in order to fix his car, and asked it to take into consideration that he was arrested while on his way back into Israel.

The state asked the judge to sentence Issawi to 10-24 months in prison but the judged rejected the request and sentenced him to 8-month sentence, with an extra 6 months suspended sentence.

Supporters and fellow villagers were gathered outside the courtroom. Violent scuffles broke out between them and police when the sentence was read out and three of the demonstrators were arrested.


Israeli Court Refuses To Release Al-Eesawy, on 210th day of hunger strike

On Tuesday February 19, head of the Legal Unit of the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS), Lawyer Jawad Boulos, reported that the Israeli District Court in Jerusalem rejected an appeal for the release of hunger striking detainee, Samer Al-Eesawy.

Boulos said that the court decided to keep Al-Eesawy is custody, until an official court ruling is reached within a month of this date.

Boulos said that Al-Eesawy was brought to the courtroom in a wheelchair, surrounded by dozens of armed Israeli guards, and when the judge asked him about “how he feels” he could barely utter a word due to his near-death condition resulting from his extended hunger strike.

Al-Eesawy, from Al-Eesawiyya town in occupied East Jerusalem, repeatedly faints, and his current health condition was described as serious but stable.

Boulos also said that Al-Eesawy’s mother fainted, and fell onto the court in front of the courtroom, after seeing the bad health condition of her son.

El-Eesawy started his strike 210 days ago demanding his release as he is being held by Israel without charges.

On Sunday, Israeli soldiers broke into the home Al-Eesawy in Al-Eesawiyya, violently searched the property, harassed the family and kidnapped his brother Shadi. Their brother, Midhat, is also a political prisoner held by Israel.

On November 18, 2011, Al-Eesawy was released as part of the prisoner-swap deal that secured the release of Israeli corporal, Gilad Shalit, who was captured by the resistance in Gaza. He was released after serving 10 years of a 30-year sentence made against him by an Israeli court.

On July 7, 2012, Al-Eesawy was rearrested at the Jaba’ Military roadblock, north east of occupied East Jerusalem, after the soldiers stopped a car transporting him following his visit to the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The Israeli District Court in Jerusalem is filing charges against Al-Eesawy for what it called “violated the terms of his conditional release by entering West Bank territory”, while the Ofer Israeli Military Court is demanding that that he serves the remaining 20 years of his 30-year term, and based its demand “on secret information” that neither Al-Eesawy, nor his lawyer, can have access to.

In August 1st 2012, Al-Eesawy decided to initiate an open-ended hunger strike demanding his release.

He was moved to the Al-Maskobiyya interrogation facility where he was subjected to ongoing interrogations for 28 days, and was not allowed to see his lawyer for 23 days.

In related news, hunger striking detainee Ayman Sharawna, from Hebron, was moved to the Soroka Israel hospital in Be’er As-Sabe’ (Beersheba), due to a serious deterioration in his health condition.

He started his hunger strike on July 1 2012; 140 days later, he paused his strike following advice of Physicians for Human Rights, and resumed his strike on January 16 2013. He is currently only drinking water, refusing to even take vitamins.

Sharawna was also previously released by Israel under the prisoner-swap deal that secured the release of Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who was held by the resistance in Gaza, then recaptured for an alleged violation of his release terms.

The deal was implemented in two stages leading to the release of 1027 Palestinian detainees held by Israel. 280 of the freed detainees were serving life terms in Israeli prisons.
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