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Samer Issawi to be released March 6, pending military ruling

Published on 21 February 2013, by M. Tomazy.
Israel's Jerusalem magistrate court has ruled to release Palestinian hunger striker Samer Issawi on 6 March 2013, after having served 8 months in prison since his re-arrest last year.

But Issawi's case will be transferred to a military court which may rule to extend his imprisonment to his complete sentence of 20 years.

Activists have quoted Issawi's sister as saying he is continuing his hunger strike in spite of the court ruling. Prisoner rights group Addameer has corroborated the statement.

Issawi was first arrested ten years ago on charges of arms possession, and was released in a Hamas-Israel prisoner exchange deal in October 2011.

On 7 July 2012, Israel rearrested him, in direct violation of the deal's terms, and was told he would he would have to be imprisoned for 20 years, completing his original sentence. He was charged with violating the conditions of his release.

Issawi has been on hunger strike for 214 days and is said to be in "critical condition". Three other Palestinian prisoners are currently refusing food, including Ayman Sharawneh, Jaafar Ezzedine, and Tarek Qa'adan.

Earlier today over 60 protesters were wounded by Israeli fire as they rallied outside Israel's notorious Ofer prison for the hunger strikers' release.

"It is too early for congratulations. We will only know for sure whether Issawi will actually be released on 6 March," coordinator of the Free Samer Issawi campaign Omar Daraghmeh told Al-Akhbar.