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Special Reports Last Updated: Jan 18th, 2007 - 01:42:06

Release of Palestinian prisoners may save their lives
By Mohammed Mar'i
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Jan 18, 2007, 01:21

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(Ramallah, Occupied Palestine) -- Released Palestinian prisoner Murad Ahmad Abu Sakoot, 29, died in a Jordanian hospital of a cancer he has been fighting for a long time.

Sakoot, who died on January 13, was sentenced by Israeli Occupation Forces to 25 years imprisonment for accusations of membership in Al Aqsa Brigades, the military wing of Fatah. Several local, Israeli, and international human rights organizations pressured Israel to release him after his right lung and part of his left lung were extirpated because of cancer, which led to a severe deterioration in his health. He was released in August 2005, after serving five years in Israeli jails.

Raja Zaidat, a relative of Sakoot, said that "Israel refused to release him at the beginning, doing that it was possible to treat him." He added, "Israel put a precondition to release him: once he takes the suitable treatment, we (Israel) will arrest him. They waited until his situation deteriorated knowing that he will die in order to release him."

After being released, Sakoot was admitted to the Al-Ahli hospital in Hebron for treatment. He stayed the most time in that hospital before being transferred to Jordan for more treatment.

Zaidat said, "Murad wished to die in his homeland of Bani No'aim [a town near Hebron, south of West Bank] close to his parents and friends, but it seems he will return dead and only if the Israeli authorities give their permission to bring his body back from Jordan."

The issue of Sakoot cast a shadow on Palestinian prisoners that wait a lasting peace agreement in order to be released from Israeli jails. The Palestinian prisoners, who number about 10,500, play an important role in the Palestinians' internal life or to any political negotiations with Israel.

The Palestinian prisoners who drew up and signed the prisoners' National Accord Document in May 2006, on Sunday engaged in a day of fasting in protest against the inter-Palestinian fighting. The prisoners who signed the document, which was adopted by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as a base for national dialogue, were Marwan Barghouthi representing Fatah, Abdul-khaliq An-Natshah representing Hamas, Bassam As-Sa'di representing Islamic Jihad, Ahmad Sa'adat representing the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Mustafa Badarnah representing the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP). They called for unity and rejection of internal fighting and condemned every assault against Palestinian targets, including assassinations, abductions, arson attacks and incitement campaigns.

From another perspective, Palestinian prisoners were upset because Israel didn't release Palestinian prisoners after the meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last December. Olmert promised to release Palestinian prisoners as goodwill gestures to Palestinians. Despite the fact that Israel didn�t uphold any of its decisions, Palestinian prisoners hope that a prisoners' exchange deal with abducted Israel soldier Gilad Shalit will free some of them to rejoin their families and to get suitable medical treatment.

Mohammed Mar'i is a journalist based in Ramallah, Occupied Palestine. He can be reached at

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