Bail Denied for Palestinian Hunger Striker
Palestinian hunger striker and Israeli prisoner Samer Issawi appeared before an Israeli court on Tuesday and was ultimately denied a release on bail. Issawi, who has refused food for 211 days, has now appeared before the court three times regarding his release and each time he has been denied. Issawi was originally part of a 2011 prisoner swap that released hundreds of Palestinians, and he was arrested in August 2012 for violating the terms of that release. He has been on a hunger strike to protest Israeli’s policy of administrative detention, which is “a system where prisoners can be held without being charged for months at a time,” reports the Huffington Post.
There are currently four other Palestinian prisoners continuing their hunger strike. Two of them are among more than 300 administrative detainees remaining in Israeli prisons following the 2011 prisoner swap. On Tuesday 800 other Palestinian prisoners joined the five continuing hunger strikers in a one-day hunger protest in solidarity with their cause.
As Issawi recently started refusing vitamins and water, his health has rapidly deteriorated. His hearing on Tuesday came after an emergency session was called by the Israeli courts “presumably over concerns that his martyrdom could trigger a new Palestinian uprising,” reports al-Akhbar English. According to reports from the Red Cross, Issawi now weighs only 40kg and is in critical condition. The hunger strike and Israel’s denial of his release has fueled anti-Israeli protests throughout the Palestinian territories.
Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) is currently visiting the region. The junior senator is a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He is scheduled to meet with President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel along with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and King Abdullah II of Jordan.