Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Sarsak critically ill after hunger strike

A Palestinian national footballer is critically ill in hospital after a prolonged hunger strike.

Mahmoud Sarsak, 25, has been refusing food ever since 24 March; protesting at his detention without being charged by Israel.

Sarah Colborne, the Director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: “All that the prisoners on hunger strike are demanding are that their basic rights are respected, and that Israel ends its use of Administrative Detention to lock up Palestinians without charge or trial”.

Sarsak is one of more than 2,000 Palestinians held captive in Israeli jails who are on hunger strike demanding that Israel ends its use of administrative detention which is detention without charge or trial.

Colborne added: “Israel’s attempt to prevent Palestinians from protesting against the illegal occupation of their land – and its systematic imprisonment of Palestinians in the West Bank, with forty per cent of adult Palestinian male population being imprisoned by Israel – must end immediately”.

The sports player was taken away by Israeli soldiers as he travelled from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank in July 2009 to join the Palestinian national team. Ever since, he has been held in the Negev Desert and his detention order continues to be renewed every six months.

Football beyond Borders, an organisation which uses the universal power of football to tackle political, cultural and social issues, issued a statement of solidarity with Sarsak and all other Palestinian political prisoners.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign UK highlighted upon the injustice of administrative detention and the way Palestinian prisoners are being treated. They have also written to the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, urging him to call in the Israeli ambassador to the UK to discuss the mass hunger strikes.

Colborne continued: “It’s difficult to imagine the desperation of a person who feels that the only option they have available to them is to starve their body of food and nutrients, but this is the desperation of the Palestinians. More than 2,000 of them, held in Israel’s jails, are now on hunger strike, and it’s time the world took notice”.

Two of the Palestinian hunger strikers – Bilal Diab, 27, and Thaer Halaheh, 33, have now spent the past 72 days without food and are critically ill.


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