Palestinian Footballer ended his hunger strike and was released on 10th July
News Update, 11th June: Show Racism the Red Card were relieved to hear that Mahmoud Sarsak has been released by Israel from prison yesterday. A member of the Palestinian International team, Mahmoud had been held for three years without formal charge and pushed for a release by enduring a hunger strike that lasted for over 90 days.
Hundreds of people gathered in Gaza to cheer him home as he emerged from an ambulance. Mahmoud had lost over half his body weight and was released from a prison hospital. During his hunger strike he suffered from fainting, memory lapses and dangerous pulse disruptions.
Israel accused Mr Sarsak of involvement with the militant group Islamic Jihad, which Mr Sarsak has always denied
He was held under Israel's Unlawful Combatants Law, which allows Israel to indefinitely detain without charge or trial foreign nationals suspected of involvement in organisations or activities hostile to the state. Suspects' cases are reviewed by a court every six months.
Israel says Mr Sarsak, a member of the Palestinian football team, was arrested based on information that he was a member of Islamic Jihad, had planted bombs and recruited and trained other militants.
The Palestinian Football Association (PFA) had urged European football's governing body, Uefa, to ban Israel from hosting the continent's under-21 championship next year over the issue of Palestinian players in Israeli detention.
Palestinian Olympic squad goalkeeper Omar Abu Rois and Ramallah player Mohammed Nimr are also being held in Israel without trial.
News Update, 18th June: Show Racism the Red Card is delighted to hear the news that Mahmoud Sarsak will be released from prison.
His lawyer Mohammed Jabbarine said: ‘An agreement has been reached. Mahmoud will end his hunger strike and in exchange he will be released on 10 July.’ On Tuesday, al-Sarsak will be transferred to a civilian hospital for treatment, but he will return later that same day to the prison’s clinic. On 10 July he will be released and allowed to return to the Gaza Strip. Al-Sarsak originates from Rafah in the Gaza Strip. Read more at FIFPro.
From our website, 12th June:
Mahmoud Sarsak, 25, is a Palestinian national team player. He has been imprisoned by the Israeli government for three years without any trial. In desparation, and to protest against his condition and lack of civil liberties, Sarsak is on a hunger strike. The 25-year old footballer has not eaten for over 85 days and has lost approximately thirty kilos in weight. According to human rights organisation Addameer the situation of Mahmoud is critical.
On 22 July 2009 Sarsak - who lives in Rafah in the Gaza Strip - was arrested at a checkpoint when he was on his way to the West Bank for a match with his national team. He was interrogated for thirty days and then imprisoned without any trial or a precise legal charge. Family and friends are not allowed to visit him.
According to the Israeli government he is an illegal combatant and therefore they can imprison him indefinitely. Israeli jails house around 4,000 Palestinian political prisoners, more than 300 of them "administrative detainees" held without charge or trial.In desperation. Sarsak, and all victims of abuse by the Israeli state, need our support.
This urgent campaign to release Mahmoud Sarsak is being supported by:
Noam Chomsky, Professor MIT, USA
John Dugard, Former Special Rapporteur of UN on Palestine, South Africa
Trevor Griffiths, Writer, UK
Paul Laverty, Screenwriter, UK
Ken Loach, Filmmaker, UK
Michael Mansfield QC
Miriam Margolyes OBE, Actor, UK
John Pilger, Journalist, author, film maker, Australia
Show Racism the Red Card
Ahdaf Soueif, Writer, UK
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Alice Walker, author
Sign the petition to call upon his release
French footballer Frédéric Kanouté has issued a statement calling upon Sarsak's release - signed by 24 of his fellow professionals.
Read more at Amnesty International