Palestinian Soccer Player Still on Hunger Strike
Mahmoud Sarsak has now been on hunger strike for eighty days, protesting his imprisonment for his alleged involvement with Islamic Jihad, a claim he and his family have denied. Israel has kept Sarsak in prison indefinitely without any formal charges by classifying him as an “illegal combatant” who could rejoin Islamic Jihad if released. Despite an Egyptian-brokered agreement between Israel and hundreds of Palestinian hunger strikers last month, which resulted in significantly improved prison conditions and other concessions from Israel, Sarsak says he will remain on hunger strike until he is released. Sarsak was arrested by the IDF in 2009 while en route from Gaza to the West Bank for a soccer contest.
Ramzy Baroud writes in the Foreign Policy Journal that Israel has a long history of sabotaging Palestinian soccer, to an extent that actually causes the Palestinian national team’s rating to remain extremely low. Physicians for Human Rights-Israel released a statement calling for an intervention to transfer the hunger strikers to a civilian hospital so that they may receive necessary care, and other improvements in prison conditions.