Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Sharawna: My release felt like victory

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Ayman Sharawna says his release to Gaza felt like a victory over Israel's occupation, after an 8-month hunger strike in Israeli prison.

"Being released this time felt different. It felt like a victory over the occupation, because no one can free a Palestinian prisoner but his persistence, determination and strength," Sharawna told Ma'an on Tuesday.

Israel deported the 36-year-old to the Gaza Strip for 10 years on Sunday in a deal to end a hunger strike he began in July.

Sharawna is from the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and told Ma'an he hopes to bring his wife and nine children to Gaza.

"I will work hard to get my family beside me as soon as possible," he said.

"I was impressed with the reception I received from people, journalists, and officials who made me feel at home," he said. "The people of Gaza are my people."

Sharawna said the last days of his hunger strike were the most difficult due to psychological pressure by Israeli authorities.

"They offered me the most craved food to try and break my strike, but I was able to stay strong an defeat the Israeli occupation. They also attempted to force me to end my strike by moving me from one prison to another," he said.

Sharawna was released in the Oct. 2011 prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas, but Israeli forces rearrested him in Jan. 2012 and jailed him without a trial. more

Arab, Islamic blocs urge UN to take action on settlement report

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Arab and Islamic blocs in the United Nations are drafting a resolution to ask the UN Human Rights Council to adopt the conclusions of a fact-finding mission on Israeli settlements, the regional director of a human rights group said Tuesday.

Amani Sinwar, the regional director of the Euro Mediterranean Monitor for Human Rights, told Ma'an that the two groups will ask that the UN human rights body implement the recommendations of the report, which says settlement building must stop immediately and settlers evacuated from occupied territory.

Christine Chanet, Chairperson of the Fact-Finding Mission, said Monday that settlement building was a "growing, creeping form of annexation" which compromised the Palestinian right to self-determination.

Presenting the findings of the mission to the Human Rights Council, Chanet said that "Israel should put an immediate end to this colonization process, begin a process of withdrawing settlements, and ensure effective remedy."

"The settlers seem to enjoy all the rights, while they are denied to Palestinians," she said.

Palestinians "are subject to a particularly complex civil law system and to a military criminal procedure which does not protect them against arbitrary arrest and detention and does not guarantee a fair trial to the accused."

"Even children aged between 12 and 17 are subject to this regime." more