Hana Shalabi, a female Palestinian prisoner in Israel, has agreed to end a 43-day hunger strike in exchange for her temporary move to the Gaza Strip.
The Ma’an News Agency of the Palestinian Territories reported that Shalabi will be sent to Gaza for three years. She had undergone a hunger strike to protest Israel’s practice of holding detainees without any charge.
Reportedly, the agreement was reached through the efforts of Palestinian officials, the Red Cross and Israel on behalf of Shalabi.
I am aware there were negotiations of that sort, an Israeli official told Reuters.
The release was also confirmed by Shalabi's lawyer, Jawwad Boulous.
Qadoura Fares, a Palestinian prisoners' group member, praised Shalabi.
“We reject deportation, but this is her decision and her own life, he said.
However, the Palestinian Authority's minister of civil affairs, Hussein al-Sheikh, told Ma’an that Ramallah leaders did not get involved in the release since they reject Israel’s deportation policies.
Al-Sheikh also said that Israel, which he feels is responsible for Shalabi’s health and well-being, should have sent her to her home in the West Bank, not to exile in Gaza.
Nonetheless, Israeli authorities believe Shalabi is a member of the Islamic Jihad, which Israel considers a terrorist group, although her father denied she is active in the organization.
Interestingly, Islamic Jihad said that it was unaware of the talks to free Shalabi and added that it also would not have approved, since it too opposes Israel’s deportation policy.
Israel is believed to be holding about 300 Palestinians in detention without charges.
Shalabi was one of the hundreds of Palestinian prisoners who were released from jail last year in connection with the deal to free Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who had been held hostage by Hamas.
She was originally arrested in September 2009 and held in continuous detention for 25 months. On Feb.16 , Shalabi was again arrested and given a six-month administrative detention order.
Another Palestinian prisoner, Khader Adnan, ended a 66-day hunger strike last month after reaching an agreement with Israeli authorities for his eventual release.
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.