Palestinian hunger striker to be released next month, protests continue

A Palestinian prisoner on a long-term hunger strike in an Israeli jail will be released in March.

The Jerusalem Magistrates Court on Thursday sentenced Samer Issawi to eight months in prison for violating the terms of his release under the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap. Issawi was charged with illegally entering the West Bank.

Since Issawi has served more than six months in prison, he will be eligible to leave prison on March 6.

Issawi has been on a hunger strike for more than 200 days and is said to be near death.

He was released in the 2011 prisoner swap to free captive soldier Gilad Shalit but was later rearrested.

At least 1,000 Palestinians demonstrated near a West Bank prison on Thursday — the latest rally in support of Issawi and three other inmates on long-term hunger strikes.

Protests in support of the four hunger strikers have been held throughout the West Bank since last week.

The protesters threw stones at Israeli security forces and burned tires after being stopped at the military checkpoint in the West Bank Palestinian town of Beitunia, according to reports. They were marching to the Ofer Prison near Ramallah.

Police dispersed the crowd with tear gas and rubber-coated bullets.

Two Israeli journalists were injured by stones during the clashes. At least 29 Palestinian protesters also were injured by rubber-coated bullets, according to the Palestinian Ma'an news service.

The four long-term hunger strikers are being held in administrative detention, under which a prisoner can be held without charges for up to four months. The administrative detention also can be renewed.