Israeli forces raid prisoner Samer Issawi's house day before release
Published Sunday 22/12/2013 (updated) 23/12/2013 21:01
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities raided the house of Samer Issawi, a Palestinian prisoner who engaged in one of the longest hunger strikes in history, on Sunday.
Authorities are expected to release Samer Issawi from Israeli prison on Monday, the Palestinian Prisoners' Society said.
Issawi will be released as part of an agreement in which he ended a 266-day hunger strike in April, during which time he became an international cause célèbre who focused attention on the plight of the thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
But on Sunday, Israeli forces raided Issawi's house and handed notifications to his brother and his father to meet with Israeli intelligence, according to the Palestinian Center for Prisoners' Studies.
The Israeli intelligence officer who led the raid threatened Issawi's father and warned him against causing problems, they said.
Shireen Issawi, Samer's sister, posted on her Facebook page Sunday morning describing the raid.
She said in the post, "I swear to God we will rejoice in the freedom of the hero Samer Issawi."
She added that despite the threats of Israeli forces to "cause problems" for the family due to the international support for their case, "because we have the (side of what is) right, the world will stay with us and we will rejoice."
Prior to reaching the agreement that secured his pending release, Israeli authorities offered him a number of agreements that involved deportation to Gaza, a reduced prison term, and deportation to Europe. Issawi, however, refused until Israel relented and allowed him to return to his Jerusalem home after serving eight more months.
He was originally arrested by Israeli forces during the Second Intifada, but was among hundreds of prisoners released in 2011 as part of a deal to release Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
The release agreement confined him to Jerusalem, but he was re-arrested in July 2012 after traveling to a village that is mostly in Jerusalem but also partially in the West Bank.
He subsequently launched a hunger strike against the renewed detention, and only concluded the strike after Israel agreed to release him.
5,200 Palestinians were being held in Israeli jails as of Oct. 2013, according to the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs. Another 1,280 are in Israeli prisons for being inside Israel without permits.
Since 1967, more than 650,000 Palestinians have been detained by Israel, representing 20 percent of the total population and 40 percent of all males in the occupied territories.
Under international law, it is illegal to transfer prisoners outside of the occupied territory in which they are detained, and the families of Palestinian prisoners' face many obstacles in obtaining permits to see their imprisoned relatives.
The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.