A Palestinian woman on hunger strike in protest at her detention without charges by Israel will be deported to the Gaza Strip under a deal ending her fast, the Palestinian prisoner affairs minister said on Thursday.
“Hanaa Shalabi agreed to end her hunger strike following an agreement with Israeli authorities under which she will be exiled to the Gaza Strip,” minister Issa Qaraqaa told AFP.
Shalabi, a 30-year-old from the West Bank, had stopped taking food after Israeli troops seized her in the occupied West Bank on Feb. 16. Her fast lasted for 44 days.
The Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, which tracks detainees in Israeli jails, said Shalabi had agreed to three years’ exile in Gaza, which is geographically separate from the West Bank and under Israeli blockade, “in return for ending her strike and being freed.”
“We accept Hanaa Shalabi’s choice, but deportation can in no way constitute a solution,” the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club said in a statement.”
“She had to accept because Israel put pressure on her. But we are totally opposed to all deportation measures,” the minister added.
Shalabi’s lawyer, Jawwad Boulous, said he did not know when the deal might be implemented given her deteriorating health. She had refused food for 44 days, her representatives said, though Israel’s Prisons Service put the duration at 40 days.
Confirming the agreement, Israel’s military said Shalabi would be deported to Gaza “in the next few days” and that she had promised “to avoid any involvement in terror activity.”
Should Israel deem her to have violated that undertaking it could prosecute her upon her return to the West Bank, the statement said.
Israeli officials said Shalabi had been detained on suspicion of involvement in planned Islamic Jihad attacks. The Israeli army has said she is “a global jihad-affiliated operative” who was re-arrested on suspicion that she “posed a threat to the area.” But no charges were filed.
Shalabi is one of around 300 Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails under administrative detention orders, which allow a court to order an individual to be detained for renewable periods of up to six months at a time.
Earlier this month, Shalabi said that an officer in civil clothes claimed he was a nurse at the prison and asked her to take off her clothes so he could search her.
“When I refused, he called other officers who tied me up and started beating me,” she said in a statement to the Palestinian Prisoner Society.
Shalabi’s lawyer Mahmoud Hassan said that one of the female officers wanted her to take off all her clothes in front of the other interrogators for the search.
“She kept refusing until the officer had to search her in the bathroom but threatened to retaliate against her,” he said in statement, of which Al Arabiya obtained a copy.
Hassan added that his client’s hands and legs were illegally tied during the trial.
Israel had previously held Shalabi for 25 months but released her in October under a prisoner swap with the Islamist militant group Hamas, which controls Gaza and, like Islamic Jihad, is deeply hostile to the Jewish state.
Shalabi’s father, Yehia, said that since the exchange his daughter had not been active in Islamic Jihad, which on Thursday deplored the conditions of her prospective release.
“We reject the Occupation’s (Israel’s) policy of deportations and we warn against them blackmailing prisoners,” a spokesman for the group said.
Last week, rights group Amnesty International urged Israel to prosecute or free Shalabi, saying she was “at risk of death.”
She was hospitalized on March 19, after 33 days without food, with doctors saying she had lost 14 kilos (31 pounds) and her pulse was “feeble.”