On December 10, Medhat Tareq al-Issawi, the brother of long-time hunger striker and fellow Palestinian prisoner Samer Issawi, was released from Israeli prisons after spending 22 months.
Medhat Issawi was jailed on charges of membership in the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. He has spent over 20 years in Israeli prisons over varying period and is a DFLP leader.
Samer Issawi refused food for over 200 days after he was re-arrested following his release in the October 2011 prisoner exchange. Issawi was freed from his 30-year sentence in the prisoner exchange agreement of October 2011 after serving nearly 10 years, he was re-arrested on July 7, 2012, in an area within the Jerusalem municipal boundaries, and accused of violating the terms of his release by leaving Jerusalem.
Samer Issawi finally ended his hunger strike when Israeli authorities agreed to release him after serving 18 months, on December 22, 2013. Palestinian and international pressure on Israel supported Samer’s hunger strike as people around the world expressed their solidarity with Samer’s struggle against unjust imprisonment.
Fadi Issawi, Medhat and Samer’s brother, was killed by Israeli soldiers – shot in 1994, just a week after his 16th birthday. During Samer’s hunger strike, his sister Shireen, who often served as the spokesperson for his case, was arrested for 24 hours, held for 10 days under house arrest, and her law license was suspended for six months. The home of Ra’fat Issawi, another brother of Samer, Medhat and Shireen, was demolished by Israeli authorities in January 2013.
Layla Issawi, Samer, Medhat, Shireen, Fadi and Ra’fat’s mother, visited Samer on December 10 after Medhat’s release. While she was there, she sent a message to Ahmad Sa’adat, the imprisoned General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine:
To the Secretary General of the Popular Front Ahmad Sa’adat,
Goodbye my brother, noblest of men, I saw you yesterday during my last visit to my son Samer before his release; I see you always when I visit, and I cried, because I will not see you – and God knows when I will see you again? I long for freedom for you and all of the prisoners. Congratulations on the anniversary of the founding of the Popular Front!
Um Samer al-Issawi