June 19, 2012

Now here's a result

Israel has agreed a to release Mahmoud Sarsak on July 10 and in return he has agreed to end his hunger strike.

Here's Ha'aretz:
A Palestinian prisoner who has been on hunger strike for 88 days ended his fast Monday, after the Israeli authorities agreed to release him on July 10, Palestinian Minister of Prisoners Affairs Issa Qaraqi said.
Mahmoud Sarsak, 25, a member of the Palestinian national football team, had begun taking liquids, preparatory to ending his hunger strike, last week Sarsak, from the Gaza Strip, was arrested in July 2009 while on his way to take  part in a football match in the West Bank. Israel accused him of being affiliated with the radical Islamic Jihad organization.
The Independent's Mark Steel is certainly a happy bunny:

The biggest football win today - Palestinian player released from jail after hunger strike and support from Cantona 

I remember years back, Mark Steel suggesting that Israel is trying to deny the Palestinians the right even to play football. It was the Palestinian under 19s were denied to visas to tour the UK:

But most likely [it] is simply that the Foreign Office has been leaned on by the Israeli government to refuse entry to the team. Because the Israelis do have a record here. In March last year they bombed the only football stadium in Gaza. And it wouldn't be surprising if, just for extra nastiness they contracted Multiplex to rebuild it.

And during the Asia Cup, which the Palestinian national team had started with an 8-0 win, the Israelis detained the five players who came from Gaza so they couldn't get to their match against Uzbekistan.
The BBC World Service had an interview a couple of weeks ago with Sarsak's father who made the same point that Mark Steel did.

What this case shows is not simply the oppressive nature of zionism with regard to the Palestinians but also Israel denying the Palestinians any semblance of normality with regard to sport and culture.  Also, by agreeing to end his fast in return for a release date, Sarsak has provided a stark reminder of the balance of forces in occupied Palestine.  Sarsak has agreed not die. Israel has agreed to release him.


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