Israeli intellectuals call on hunger striker to end his protest

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israeli authors and intellectuals called on Palestinian prisoner Samer Issawi to end his long hunger strike in the name of making peace.

The authors, including A. B. Yehoshua and Amos Oz, issued their plea Sunday in response to a message by Issawi posted on Facebook last week in which he called on Israelis to help him obtain his freedom, Haaretz reported.

Issawi, who has been on his hunger strike for more than eight months, is hospitalized at Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot in a state of deterioration. Issawi receives liquids only, and doctors reportedly said his life is in imminent danger.

"We have read about your hunger strike with agony," the authors wrote in their message. "We are horrified by your deteriorating condition. We feel that the suicidal act you are about to commit will add another facet of tragedy and desperation to the conflict between the two peoples — a conflict that peace-seekers on both sides wish to end.

"We urge you to stop your hunger strike and choose life because we are committed to tirelessly striving toward peace between the two peoples, who will live side by side forever in this country."

Issawi, who was imprisoned in Israel in 2002 and sentenced to 26 years in jail for terrorist activities, was one of the more than 1,000 prisoners released in the Gilad Shalit swap. He was rearrested more than a year later and shortly after started his hunger strike.

Meanwhile, Israeli authorities reportedly offered to release Issawi from prison if he agrees to voluntary deportation to a third country. Israel reportedly has turned to the European Union and the United Nations to find the country. Issawi has refused to be deported.

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