Thousands gather in East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya to welcome the now-iconic hunger striker home.
Text by Michael Omer-Man
Photos by Oren Ziv and Tali Mayer / Activestills.org
Former hunger striking Palestinian prisoner Samer Issawi was released to his home in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya Monday night, exactly eight months after he agreed to resume eating as part of a deal with Israeli authorities.
Issawi staged an intermittent hunger strike for nearly nine months until April 23, 2013.
Over 2,000 people awaited his release on the main road leading into Issawiya. Revelers carried him on their shoulders to the Issawi family home, where a tent was erected in the morning. Earlier in the day the family hosted guests who came to celebrate.
Israeli security forces visited the Issawi family twice in the past few days, warning them not to hold any celebrations.
Issawi was released as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange in October, 2011, having served 10 years of a 30-year sentence. He began his hunger strike nine months later, shortly after the IDF re-arrested him.
Issawi began his hunger strike to protest the legal mechanism that put him in prison without access to due process. He was re-sentenced by a military tribunal using secret evidence that neither he nor his lawyers were allowed to see, and therefore was unable to mount any defense in court.
Ultimately, he was convicted by a Jerusalem court for violating the terms of his release and a deal was reached that he would be released eight months later.
Last week, Israel released Mahmud Issa Abed al-Hamid Masalma after holding him in administrative detention for over 30 months.
On Sunday, two Palestinian brothers agreed to end a 38-day hunger strike in protest of their administrative detention, Ma’an reported. The pair reportedly reached a deal with Israeli authorities in which they will reportedly be brought to trial.
As of October, Israel was holding 140 Palestinians without charge in administrative detention, according to B’Tselem.
This article has been amended to reflect over 2,000 people welcomed Issawi, not 200. We regret the typo.