Palestinian soccer player ends hunger strike over detention in Israel


Protestors with their hands tied, eyes blindfolded and mouths taped take part in an Arab Jewish demonstration in the city of Jaffa near Tel Aviv on May 12, 2012, against the administrative detention of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.



A Palestinian soccer player detained in an Israeli jail for three years without charge has agreed to end an 83-day hunger strike in exchange for an early release.

Mahmoud al-Sarsak, 25, denies allegations that he was involved in the radical Islamic Jihad organization, and began his strike on March 23 in protest against his detention under Israel’s “unlawful combatants law,” which permits Gazans to be held indefinitely without charge, the BBC reported.

His lawyer says a deal has now been reached whereby Sarsak will be transferred to a civilian hospital to undergo medical treatment on Tuesday, in exchange for agreeing to start eating again.

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Sarsak was arrested at the Erez border crossing in July 2009, whilst making his way to represent the Palestinian national team in a soccer game in the West Bank, according to Ma’an News Agency.

The Palestinian Prisoners Club, which looks after Palestinians in Israeli jails, told Haaretz that Sarsak might be released as early as next month.

Two other soccer players – Omar Abu Rois and Mohammed Nimr are also being detained in Israeli jails without trial, according to the BBC.

Last month FIFA President Sepp Blatter issued a statement registering his “grave concern” over “the alleged illegal detention” of Palestinian players, and called on the Israeli Football Association (IFA) to draw the attention of the relevant Israeli authorities to the issue. 

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