Palestinian prisoner and record-breaking hunger-striker Samer al-Issawi was released from prison Monday.
Issawi had launched a 266-day hunger strike — from August 2012 to April 2013 — protesting his incarceration. During that time, Issawi consumed only water and intravenous vitamins. In April, under pressure from solidarity groups, fierce Palestinian protests, and international petitions and in light of Issawi’s rapidly deteriorating health, the Zionist government reached a compromise with Issawi and shortened his sentence to eight months, on the condition that he ends his hunger strike.
Palestinian news sources, citing a Facebook post by Issawi’s sister, reported that Israeli occupation forces raided Issawi’s Al-Quds home Sunday, arresting his father Tariq, and his brother, Midhat. Midhat had previously served in Israeli prison for 19 years.
Issawi was sentenced to 26 years prison in 2002 for his alleged involvement in a series of shooting attacks. However, in 2011, Issawi was released from prison prematurely as part of the prisoner swap in exchange for kidnapped IOF soldier Gilad Shalit.
Israeli officials were reportedly concerned that Issawi’s death in prison would spark riots in the West Bank, and were therefore willing to concede to his demands.
Issawi’s release Monday was greeted with sizable fanfare, as have other Palestinian prisoner releases, even when done in the middle of the night.
“The Global Campaign for Palestinian Political Prisoners warmly congratulates Samer Issawi on his victory over the Zionist oppressors, against whom he waged the longest hunger strike in recorded human history in order to secure his release,” read a statement on the “Free Samer Issawi Campaign” Facebook page , which garnered over 10,000 likes. “Samer is a hero to us, to the entire Palestinian population inside of Palestine and in the diaspora, and to millions of supporters around the world.”