Thursday, March 29, 2012

PA: Israel deportation policy 'a war crime'

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A woman holds a placard depicting prisoner Hana Shalabi during a rally
in support of her hunger strike (Reuters/Ammar Awad)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israel's policy of deporting Palestinians is a war crime, a top Palestinian Authority official said Thursday after a deal to send a detainee to Gaza.

Prisoners minister Issa Qaraqe told Ma'an his ministry rejects the policy which it considers a war crime.

Hana Shalabi was subjected to pressure from the Israeli intelligence services and was taken advantage of due to her deteriorating condition, Qaraqe told Ma'an following the deal.

President Mahmoud Abbas instructed his civil affairs minister to follow up on the case after it emerged that Shalabi agreed to a three-year deportation to the Gaza Strip in exchange for ending her strike.

Hussein al-Sheikh told Ma'an that the Palestinian government in Ramallah rejects the deportation policy and played no role in negotiations that would lead to such an outcome.

He said a bilateral meeting between Shalabi and the Israeli government resulted in some kind of deal, but the details remained unclear. The PA's position is she should be freed unconditionally, he said.

An Islamic Jihad spokesman agreed, denying it was involved or aware of the deal.

An Israeli official said only that "I am aware there were negotiations of that sort." He did not elaborate, Reuters reported.

The agreement was reached late Thursday, Shalabi's lawyer confirmed.

Qadoura Fares of the Palestinian prisoners society said Shalabi agreed to the deal "in return for ending her strike and being freed."

He added: "We reject deportation, but this is her decision and her own life."
Maan News Agency