A Palestinian held by Israel who has been on a hunger strike for nearly 190 days is close to death, MK Ahmad Tibi said Monday, as crowds rallied outside the prison to demand his release.
Samer al-Issawi was arrested in July, less than a year after being freed as part of the swap deal that saw Hamas release kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Tibi said on his Facebook page that Issawi’s spirits were high though his weight stood at only 48 kilograms (106 lbs).
Approximately 100 people gathered outside the Ayalon Prison in Ramle on Monday to protest the continued detainment of Issawi.
“We want you alive among us so you can continue to fight for your people and homeland, and we are looking forward to visiting you at home after you triumph in this hunger strike, God willing,” Tibi was quoted by the Palestinian Ma’an news agency as telling Issawi.
Issawi was arrested on July 7, 2012, for violating his parole by venturing outside Jerusalem’s city limits. According to Ma’an, Issawi is willing to die in his struggle against Israel.
“The only choices I have are to triumph or die a martyr,” he said.
Israeli prosecutors are seeking to cancel Issawi’s parole and detain him for 20 years, the remainder of his previous sentence.
Issawi is one of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners to use the hunger strike to agitate for release or better conditions over the last year. Some 1,500 prisoners refused food for over two months in the spring of 2012 to protest Israel’s policy of administrative detention, by which inmates can be held without charge.