Monday, June 18, 2012

Mahmoud Sarsak to be Freed After Months of Hunger Strike and Global Solidarity

According to his attorney, Palestinian soccer star Mahmoud Sarsak will be released from Israeli detention on July 10th after a three month hunger strike. Mahmoud, 25, has been held by Israel without charge or trial since his abduction by Israeli forces in 2009. He began his hunger strike on March 19th in protest of his imprisonment, refusing any nourishment until last week when, near death, he accepted milk while Israeli authorities reconsidered his demands.

Despite a dearth of mainstream media attention, Sarsak's cause had begun to gain support around the globe. Frederic Kenoute, Eric Cantona, and two dozen other European sports figures expressed support for Sarsak. FIFA President Sepp Blatter and FIFpro, the international association of football players, also expressed solidarity. Meanwhile, soccer fans at the Scotland-Israel Euro 2013 women’s qualifier chanted "Free Mahmoud Sarsak" and "Free Palestine" while French activists protested at a supermarket selling Israeli goods in Bordeaux.  Recently, according to Haaretz, an Israeli reservist imprisoned for refusing to partake in the occupation of Palestine began his own hunger strike "in solidarity [with the Palestinians], and in order to raise awareness on the issue of administrative detention."

Scottish soccer fans stand in solidarity with Mahmoud Sarsak

Despite the news of Sarsak's release, Ali Abuminah of the Electronic Intifada urges caution in the face of this victory.  Israel has been slow to implement the terms which ended a similar hunger strike among Palestinian prisoners in May.  Further, there is no word on Akram Rikhawi, now 68 days into his own hunger strike in Israeli detention. 

Israel to free footballer Mahmoud Sarsak after epic 3-month hunger strike, lawyer says
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