Hana Shalabi "exiled" to Gaza after Israel cuts deal

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Friday, March 30, 2012

A Palestinian woman in Israeli detention has agreed to end a 43-day hunger strike after political pressure forced Israel to cut a deal, Palestinian prisoner affairs minister said on Thursday.

"Hana Shalabi agreed to end her hunger strike following an agreement with Israeli authorities under which she will be exiled to the Gaza Strip," Issa Qaraqa told AFP.

The Palestinian Prisoners' Club, which tracks detainees in Israeli jails, said Shalabi, a 30-year-old from the West Bank, would have to stay three years in Gaza.

Qaraqa and the prisoners' group both condemned the "deportation" of Shalabi.

"She had to accept because Israel put pressure on her. But we are totally opposed to all deportation measures," said the minister.

"We accept Hana Shalabi's choice, but deportation can in no way constitute a solution," the Palestinian Prisoners' Club said in a statement.

The decision to release her will be seen as another victory for those campaigning against administrative detention – the system under which Shalabi was detained whereby Israel is able to detain prisoners without trial effectively indefinitely.

Last Sunday, an Israeli military court rejected an appeal from Shalabi against a four-month administrative detention order.

She has been on hunger strike since her detention on February 16, to protest both her detention without charge and violence she says was inflicted during her arrest.

Last week, rights group Amnesty International urged Israel to prosecute or free Shalabi, saying she was "at risk of death."

She was hospitalized on March 19, after 33 days without food, with doctors saying she had lost 14kgs and her pulse was "feeble."

Shalabi was among more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners released in October in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, held by Gaza-based militants for more than five years.

She had been held by Israel for more than two years without charge before she was released under the prisoner exchange.

Shalabi had taken strength from the success of Khader Adnan, who agreed to end his 66-day hunger strike in February after media pressure had forced Israel into making a deal.

In the wake of his hunger strike, dozens more Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have launched similar protests, according to Palestinian and Israeli officials.

Shalabi's case attracted support across the Palestinian territories, as did that of Adnan, with demonstrations of solidarity held in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

(Al-Akhbar, AFP)

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