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.
Israeli prosecutors sought to cancel Sharawna’s amnesty and reinstate the 28 years remaining on his previous sentence using secret charges and evidence never revealed to the prisoner’s lawyers.
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights on Monday condemned the deportation of Sharawna to Gaza.
Forcible deportation is a form of collective punishment prohibited under the Fourth Geneva Convention which prohibits “individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not,” PCHR said in a statement.