PA refuses Israeli offer to deport hunger striker to Gaza

The Palestinian Authority’s Minister of Prisoner Affairs, Issa Qaraqe, says Israel has offered to release hunger striking administrative detainee Hana Shalabi – under the condition that she be deported to Gaza. In a statement to Ma’an news agency, Qaraqe said the Palestinian government refused the offer to ban the West Bank detainee from her home, and is insisting upon the unconditional release of Shalabi, who has not been accused of committing any crime.

As the 32nd day of Shalabi’s hunger strike begins, and while her physical condition keeps deteriorating, Qaraqe told Ma’an that “we did not agree on such a proposal, neither do we legitimize deportation. The Israelis should release Shalabi to her home, especially because she was illegally detained, and the court has no evidence to incriminate or detain her.” Qaraqe also gave the names of prisoners who recently joined Shalabi’s hunger strike, including Ahmad Saqir Abu Basir, the longest term prisoner held in administrative detention, and lawmaker Ahmad Hajj Ali.

 This is not the first time that Israel is offering to deport Palestinian prisoners as a condition for their release. Several prisoners were deported either to Gaza or abroad as part of the latest Schalit swap deal. The suggestion to deport Shalabi was probably made as part of the military prosecution’s attempt to heed the call of the military court of appeals, which asked that a deal be struck between the army and Shalabi.

 Shalabi, a 29-year-old woman from the West Bank village of Burqin, was formally held for 25 months in administrative detention, was released last October in the Schalit prisoner swap, and re-arrested within four months of her release. Since her second arrest, Shalabi has refused to eat in protest of her continued detention without charges or trial. The IDF claims it has intelligence indicating Shalabi might endanger regional security.

As in previous weeks, some of last Friday’s demonstrations throughout the West Bank were dedicated to the release of Shalabi and the other administrative detainees. In the village of Nabi Saleh an Israeli demonstrator was hit in the head by a rubber coated bullet and hospitalized, and two Palestinians were more lightly wounded. In Ma’asara four Israelis were beaten and detained shortly. In the village of Qaddum, where the demonstration was dedicated to the memory of peace activist Rachel Corrie, soldiers unleashed an attack dog, which sank its teeth into a Palestinian demonstrator’s arm and would not let go for several minutes. This is the first time the army used attack dogs against unarmed civilians in protest.

Soldiers in Ma'asar aarresting an Israeli demonstrator (Oren Ziv / Activestills)
Soldiers in Ma'asara arresting an Israeli demonstrator (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

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