Israel swaps one Sharawneh for another

Published March 18th, 2013 - 01:16 GMT
Ayman Sharawneh is greeted by crowds as he arrives in Gaza (AFP Photo)
Ayman Sharawneh is greeted by crowds as he arrives in Gaza (AFP Photo)

Israel arrested the brother of former-Palestinian prisoner Ayman Sharawneh in the West Bank early Monday just hours after the long-term hunger striker was released from Israeli prison and deported to the Gaza Strip, Ma’an News Agency reported.

Israeli forces raided the home of Jihad Sharawneh, 24, at dawn Monday in Deir Samir, southwest of Hebron.

An Israeli military spokesman told Ma’an that Jihad Sharawneh was arrested and taken in for security questioning.

Amjad Najjar, head of the Hebron branch of the Palestinian Prisoners Society, denounced the arrest as an act of revenge to punish the Sharawneh family.

Ayman Sharawneh signed an agreement with Israeli authorities to be deported to Gaza for 10 years, bringing an end to his eight-month-long hunger strike, Qadura Fares, head of the Palestinian Prisoners Society, said in a statement.

He arrived at the Erez crossing Sunday night, where a Palestinian ambulance was waiting to take him into Gaza. Hundreds of people crowded at the Palestinian side of the checkpoint to greet him.

Fares said that Israel had previously proposed to deport Sharawneh outside of Palestine, but then offered to exile him to Gaza after he refused to leave his homeland.

Sharawneh agreed to be deported after months of hunger striking to protest his detention, and after numerous warnings by doctors regarding the severe deterioration in his health, Fares added.

The 36-year-old father of nine had previously demanded that authorities allow him to return to Hebron to be with his family.

The under secretary of the PA Ministry of Detainee Affairs, Ziad Abu Ein, told Ma'an that Sharawneh’s agreement was signed without notifying the ministry.

Earlier Sunday, the Minister of Detainee Affairs Issa Qaraqe said the Palestinian Authority rejected the deportation of prisoners as political blackmail.

Sharawneh was released in the October 2011 prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas but was rearrested in January 2012 and accused of violating the terms of his release.

Israeli authorities refused to reveal how Sharawneh violated his release terms, even to his lawyers, and he was jailed without charge or trial.

Israeli prosecutors sought to cancel Sharawneh's amnesty and jail him for 28 years, the remainder of his previous sentence. He went on hunger strike to demand his release.

Abu Ein said Israeli authorities were pressuring Samer Issawi, who has been on hunger strike for 228 days, to make a similar deal.


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