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Middle East
Palestinian prisoner eases hunger strike
Mahmoud Sarsak, a Palestinian footballer held by Israel, agrees to take milk after fast lasting more than 80 days.
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2012 23:58

A Palestinian official says a prisoner held by Israel has agreed to ease his hunger strike, and his life is no longer in danger.

Qadoura Fares, who heads a prisoners rights group, said Mahmoud Sarsak, 25, a former player with the Palestinian national football team, agreed to take milk on Monday after a more than 80 days of hunger strike.

The Gaza resident has been held without charge since 2009, and has demanded to be released.

Fares said Sarsak agreed to drink milk for the 72 hours it will take for Israel reviews the case.

Israel's prison service said Sarsak was no longer fasting.

Earlier in the day, Sivan Weizman, Israel Prison Services spokeswoman, said "[Mahmoud] Sarsak ended his hunger strike", adding that he had taken the decision to end his fast after consulting his lawyer and the prison administration.

Sarsak began refusing food in late March along with several other prisoners in a protest which in April was joined by more than 1,000 detainees demanding better conditions, including increased access to lawyers and visits from relatives in Gaza.

Administrative detention

Sarsak and others also sought an end to the practice of holding suspects in administrative detention, under which a military court can order an individual held without charge for renewable periods of six months.

Sarsak's family told Al Jazeera that he has lost 30kg since going on hunger strike, stating the claims Israel has made that he is part of the armed group Islamic Jihad are absurd.

Sarsak played football for Palestine's national team while still a teenager. He was arrested three years ago while travelling to the West Bank to play professional football.

The mass hunger strike ended on May 14, with a deal that saw Israel agree to ease prison conditions, but not end administrative detention.

Sarsak continued his hunger strike and his health has been deteriorating, with prison authorities transferring him briefly to a civilian hospital on Sunday night before returning him to the Ramle prison near Tel Aviv.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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