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Deal reached to free hunger striking athlete Mahmoud Sarsak

Mahmoud Sarsak’s lawyer has confirmed reports that a deal has been struck with Israel, prompting his release and putting an end to 92 days of hunger strike.

Mohammad Jabarin, lawyer of hunger striking Palestinian national football team’s midfielder Mahmoud Sarsak, has told Ma’an news agency that Sarsak will be released from prison on July 10, after three years without charge or trial, during which he was considered an “unlawful combatant.” The deal was struck after 92 days of Sarsak’s hunger strike. Sarsak’s life was considered at serious risk, and Israel was facing growing international pressure – most recently expressed by Eric Cantona, FIFA President Sepp Blatter, and an Israeli conscientious objector who started a solidarity hunger strike in military prison. Sarsak will gradually start to eat in the coming days while still in the hospital ward in prison. It is yet unclear whether permanent damage has been caused to his muscles.

Demonstration in Ramallah in support of Sarsak, today (Ahmad Al-Bazz / Activestills)

Demonstration in Ramallah in support of Sarsak, today (Ahmad Al-Bazz / Activestills)

This is the fourth concession of its kind that Israel has made in recent months, the first three with administrative detainees Khader Adnan, Hana Shalabi, Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh. The deal with Adnan was struck after the 66th day of his hunger strike, and with Diab and Halahleh after they both passed the 80-day mark. Several other administrative detainees are still on strike.

Read also:

Hunger striking Palestinian footballer at risk of death
Eric Cantona, FIFA head demand release of Palestinian footballer

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    1. “during which he was considered an “unlawful combatant.” ” Hmmm. [1] Who did the “considering”? [2] Is being an “unlawful combatant” a legal fact (like being a tax cheat or a murderer), and if so, must not such a fact be determined by a court?

      So we have Israel saying (as the USA so much copies it, these days): someone accuses Sarsac of being an unlawful combatant, and so we’ll imprison him without trial, and on a card attached to the outside of the door of his prison cell, we’ll write “accused of being an illegal combatant” and then, on second thoughts, we’ll cross out “accused of being an”, leaving merely “unlawful combatant.”

      Did I miss any part of the legal procedure here? As a lawyer, I like to describe legal procedure correctly.

      How soon, do you suppose, will Israel arrest him again (like some of the prisoners released in the Gaza prisoner exchange)? Or will they content themselves to arrest 100 other men — instead?

      Reply to Comment
    2. As I was reading this, a thought arose in my mind, “here’s the proof”. Of what you might ask? Of my premise that currently Palestinians do not have a people’s consciousness: they do not yet inwardly see themselves as a people who deserve rights; as in see this in a way that produces repeated behavioral manifestation of such people. Once the majority inwardly see themselves as a people who deserve all the human rights all humans deserve, they will set up political parties and have elections, and finally have a government that functions and operates in accord with the will of the people; which begins to deal with Israel in mass non-violent actions, as with these hunger strikes, resulting in over time Israel becoming the pariah that was South Africa near the end of apartheid. And in time Israel will fold its deck and sue for peace as did South Africa.

      So I loudly applaud the few Palestinians who underwent these hunger strikes; whom I suspect will in the future be seen as major contributors to Palestinians finally getting the peace and justice they richly deserve.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Piotr Berman

      “Once the majority inwardly see themselves as a people who deserve all the human rights all humans deserve, they will set up political parties and have elections,”

      This is weird. It offers a totally new perspective on world events. Like, one day Egyptians observed that they deserve human rights, so there were multi-party elections. But they developed second thoughts on the matter, so the Parliament was dissolved. Warren, do you know what an unfalsifiable theory is? A theory that explains everything and predicts nothing.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Congratulations. This wasn’t a football game. No coming back from a loss. And one or more of his organs may have been permanently compromised.
      That the Israeli State blinks before death is a good sign. But this price should not have to be paid.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Laurent Szyster

      Sarsak is a member of Islamic Jihad’s military wing, an unlawfull militia that purposefully targets israeli civilians. So, he is indeed an “unlawfull combatant”.

      The fact that he also played football does not makes him less of a threat.

      Reply to Comment
    6. sh

      Sarsak denies being a member of Islamic Jihad at all, never mind having anything to do with its military wing. Israel has made that accusation but has never troubled to prove it in court. And since it is releasing Sarsak, one has to suppose it doesn’t intend to. Maybe there’s no proof at all and Sarsak’s battlefield is the football pitch just as Khader Adnan’s is his bakery?

      Reply to Comment
    7. Laurent Szyster


      Sarsak denies being a member of Islamic Jihad’s military wing ? The problem is that the militia itself takes pride in claiming that relationship:


      Beside playing football, according to Israel’s state prosecutor, Sarsak is also a highly motivated explosive expert. And the evidences produced have been convincing enough for the Supreme Court.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Piotr Berman

      The problem with Laurent proof is that it is so easy that it begs the question: why Sarsak could not be tried without revealing super secret evidence available on the web?

      Supposedly, evidence produced was so secret it could not be used in a trial. Does it add up?

      Reply to Comment
    9. re: Szyster, above: what these few extreme hunger strikes are doing is dissolving our standard combat labels. Even if Sarsak were as Szyster says, I suspect he is something quite different now. And that, from Szyster’s world, may be a great threat indeed.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Laurent Szyster

      @Piotr Berman, If the state prosecutor was to publicize the identities of its palestinian informants, they’d be as good as dead.

      @Greg Pollock, After his hunger strike Sarsak is probably not a threat anymore. And I don’t give a flying fuck that he became an icon of “resistance” for “antizionists”.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Piotr Berman

      So you agree that the website you linked to does not prove anything?

      Reply to Comment
    12. Piotr Berman

      I am sure that Israel prosecutors do not have to publicly disclose identities of informants. There may be a problem with credibility of information provided by an organization that has special units involved in forgery, but within Israel such information is probably accepted at par with Torah. Frankly, I see only one reason to avoid trials for persons like Sarsak: while evidence may be secret, charges cannot be, and the charges can be refutable, something to avoid.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Laurent,
      You don’t understand what is happening at all. To understand, you would have to remove your race lens. And that is why yours will eventually, eventually, fail.
      And I suspect you have never been involved in a “flying fuck,” so have nothing to give (up).

      Reply to Comment