Against the backdrop of West Bank protests expressing solidarity with hunger striking Palestinian prisoners, administrative detainee Samer Issawi was sentenced Thursday to an eight month prison sentence – this for illegally entering the West Bank, thus breaking the terms of his release in the Shalit prisoner exchange.
His retroactive sentence, running from the day of his July 2012 detention, means his release is anticipated for March.
Due to his past involvement in terror, Issawi had previously been sentenced to 26 years imprisonment, but was released under the Shalit deal with the stipulation that he not enter the West Bank. In July 2012, Issawi was caught breaking the terms.
According to Issawi’s own admission, he had violated his release terms and attempted to influence a witness, telling a friend who was in the car with him when they were stopped at the Aram checkpoint, not to say where they were coming from. Issawi has been on hunger strike since the beginning of his imprisonment,
Issawi leaving court Thursday (Photo: Reuters)
Judge Eitan Kornhawser said that although Issawi had disobeyed a high level order, the action itself was a low level offense, and that one should first weigh in on the current offense, before examining the background.
Concurrently, the judge noted that one must examine the past offense, and the sentence it received. “This makes clear the grave danger the accused presents to the public,” he stated. Issawi was sentenced to eight months imprisonment and six months probation.
Demonstrators outside courthouse (Photo: AFP)
Over the past week, Palestinians have been protesting the continued detention of Issawi and three additional detainees also on hunger strikes. “I think today there is a greater outpouring of support than that which was felt last year for Khader Adnan,” said Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian parliament member and one of the leading organizers of protests in support of Issawi and other Palestinian administrative detainees.
Tensions run high at demonstrations (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
“The protests on Friday were reminiscent of the first Intifada. If something happens to Issawi, I believe that the entire West Bank will erupt in a new, non-violent Intifada of the people,” Barghouti said.
Even before the procession showing solidarity with the Palestinian detainees got underway, Palestinian youths began confrontations with Israeli security forces, which responded with crowd dispersal measures. A Channel 1 correspondent, Yoram Cohen was lightly injured, apparently from a rock and was taken to the hospital.
Another reporter was also lightly injured by a rock. Hundreds of demonstrators marched, carrying Fatah flags and approaching the Bituniyeh checkpoint, on the way to Ofer Prison. Several Palestinians were also injured.
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