World Bulletin / News Desk
A soccer player from Gaza held by Israel without trial for nearly three years has agreed to end his three-month hunger strike in exchange for hospital treatment and an early release, his lawyer said on Monday.
Mahmoud al-Sarsak, 25, is the latest of a number of Palestinian prisoners to end hunger strike after winning guarantees of release from their Israeli jailers.
"There has been a written agreement with the Israeli side for him to be released on July 10 and to be moved for medical treatment to a civilian hospital," Sarsak's lawyer Mohammed Jabarin told Reuters.
"There had been a substantial deterioration in his health and he needs special care. He will not return to prison," Jabarin added.
Israel's Prisons Authority had no comment.
Sarsak, who has played for the Palestinian national team, was detained while he was leaving Gaza, the Palestinian coastal enclave besieged, to travel through Israel to join teammates in the occupied West Bank.
Israel has freed three other prisoners in the past few months, ending lengthy hunger strikes on their part.
The Palestinian Football Association had raised Sarsak's case with international soccer authorities and appealed to them to prevent Israel from hosting the European under-21 championships next year, but the request was rejected on Monday.
Michel Platini, the president of UEFA, European soccer's governing organisation, said he had asked the Israeli soccer body to raise Sarsak's case with the government but the tournament would go ahead as planned.
"I am sure the (head of the Israeli FA) will alert his country's authorities as quickly as possible to the great concern caused..." he said in a letter to Jibril Rajoub, the head of the Palestinian Football Association.
Israeli and Palestinian teams do not compete against each other as the Israelis play their matches in Europe while the Palestinians are members of Asia's soccer body.Güncelleme Tarihi: 19 Haziran 2012, 13:20