Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman called for the rearrest of noted hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner Samer al-Issawi Wednesday, two days after Issawi was released to his East Jerusalem home, claiming that Issawi was guilty of inciting violence.
“Just yesterday [sic], on the day of his release, Issawi called in an interview with Hamas television to continue to kidnap IDF soldiers and said that ‘the release of prisoners will be reached only by kidnappings and prisoner swaps and nothing will be achieved without that,’” Liberman said in a statement posted to his Facebook page.
Issawi, who was freed after a long hunger strike, told Al-Aqsa TV that violent resistance was the most effective means of fighting against Israel and winning the release of Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli jails.
Liberman also drew a parallel to political prisoners held in the UK in 1981, 10 of whom died as a result of their hunger strikes, and appealed to the Israeli government to follow the lead of prime minister Margaret Thatcher and not give in to inmates’ demands.
“Every normal democratic country that strives to defend itself, like the great democracy of Britain which I mentioned earlier, would have already returned Issawi to prison,” Liberman wrote. “A prisoner released conditionally who calls, on the same day, to kidnap the soldiers of the country that released him, needs to complete his sentence in prison with no concessions, and if he wants to hunger strike, let him do as he pleases, or, as the British minister Humphrey Atkins said of the Irish hunger strike, ‘If he persisted in his wish to commit suicide, that was his choice.’”
Issawi was released Monday after serving eight months in an Israeli prison for violating his parole conditions. He garnered international support and publicity after he launched a 266-day hunger strike — from August 2012 to April 2013 — protesting his incarceration. During that time, Issawi consumed only water and intravenous vitamins. In April, under pressure from solidarity groups, fierce Palestinian protests, and international petitions, and in light of Issawi’s rapidly deteriorating health, the Israeli government reached a compromise with Issawi and shortened his sentence to eight months, on the condition that he end his strike.
Issawi was sentenced to 26 years prison in 2002 for his involvement in a series of shooting attacks at Israeli police cars and students at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. However, in 2011, Issawi was released from prison prematurely as part of the prisoner swap in exchange for kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
Under his parole terms, Issawi was barred from leaving the Jerusalem area. He was picked up by Israeli security forces after he traveled to the West Bank in 2012, and was sentenced to serve out the remainder of his original term, through 2029.
Israeli officials were reportedly concerned that were Issawi to die in in prison, it would spark riots in the West Bank, and were therefore willing to concede to his demands.