Palestinian protestors hold pictures of Mahmud Sarsak (right) and other prisoners during a demonstration near Ramallah
Palestinian protestors hold pictures of jailed footballer Mahmud Sarsak (right) and other prisoners during a demonstration near Ramallah on June 11. Sarsak, who has been refusing food for three months over being held in an Israeli jail without charge, on Monday agreed a deal with Israel for his early release, his lawyer said. © Abbas Momani - AFP/File
Palestinian protestors hold pictures of Mahmud Sarsak (right) and other prisoners during a demonstration near Ramallah
AFP
Last updated: June 18, 2012

Hunger-striking Gaza footballer strikes deal with Israel

Gaza footballer Mahmud Sarsak, who has been refusing food for three months over being held in an Israeli jail without charge, on Monday agreed a deal with Israel for his early release, his lawyer said.

"A deal was reached half an hour ago which will see Mahmud end his hunger strike in exchange for early release on July 10," lawyer Mohammed Jabarin told AFP.

"He will be transferred tomorrow to a civilian hospital to receive treatment, and on July 10 he will return to Gaza."

Sarsak has been held by Israel since July 2009 under the so-called "unlawful combatants" law, and his current detention order had been due to expire, or be renewed, on August 22.

He began refusing food in a protest which has recently garnered international attention, with world football governing body FIFA and rights group Amnesty International expressing concern over his ongoing detention.

When he was arrested, he had been on his way to sign on with a West Bank football team.

Israeli officials have called Sarsak an "Islamic Jihad terrorist who planned attacks and bombings," but have not made public any charges or evidence against him.

He has been on hunger strike since March 23, despite a brief pause in mid-April. In recent weeks he has been taking vitamins and sugar and drinking milk, his lawyer has said.

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