Israel frees Palestinian hunger strike icon

Ramallah, Dec 24: Israeli authorities freed Samer Essawi, a Palestinian prisoner who went on the longest hunger strike against Israel, after more than 17 months in jail, Monday, his family said.

Essawi, from Essaweyeh town in eastern Jerusalem, was received by hundreds of relatives, friends and supporters, Xinhua reported.

He served his 10 of the total 30-year jail sentence in an Israeli prison before being released in Oct 2011 as part of an Egypt-brokered prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas. The deal led to the release of the jailed Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

But, in June 2012, the Palestinian was rearrested for trying to enter the West Bank from eastern Jerusalem.

Israel accused him of violating the release conditions in the swap deal.

In August 2012, Essawi started his nine-month long hunger strike, accusing the Israeli authorities of arresting him for no convincing reasons. Following a series of sessions held by the Israeli courts, Israel finally decided to release him Monday.

IANS