Thursday, November 4, 2010

Detainee still in jail months after serving term

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Protesting a 3-month delay of his release, a Gaza man held in Israel's Negev prison went on hunger strike Monday, a prisoners support group reported.

Shadi Abu Al-Hussein, 34, from the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, was due for release on 31 August but has remained in an isolation cell.

An Israeli prison service spokesman confirmed that Abu Al-Hussein had completed his sentence but "is being held in legal custody awaiting deportation."

According to the prisoners center, he was being held because he does not have an Israeli-issued ID card, which acts as identification for the Israeli government, military and public services. The prison service spokesman was unable to confirm that this was the reason behind the delay.

Officials at Israel's Ministry of the Interior, where identity cards are issued, were not available for comment.

In 2009, estimates showed at least 5,000 people in Gaza were awaiting family reunification permits from Israel. Although Israeli forces withdrew from the Strip in 2005, taking with them 8,500 settlers, the military maintains strict control of the borders. Relatives are rarely allowed to visit loved ones in prison.

In recent months, prisoners with ID cards registering them in Gaza, but who had lived in the West Bank with their spouses or relatives, were deported to Gaza without recourse to the courts.