Middle East

Palestinian prisoner hunger striker hospitalised

Palestinian protestors clash with Israeli soldiers at the entrance to Ofer Prison near Ramallah in the Occupied West Bank during a demonstration to support female prisoner Hanaa al-Shalabi (portrait) who was freed in a prisoner swap with Israel but was re-arrested on February 16 and has gone on hunger strike since. (AFP PHOTO/ABBAS MOMANI)

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories: A Palestinian woman prisoner who has been on hunger strike for 33 days was taken to hospital briefly on Monday over health concerns, Palestinian and Israeli officials said.

"Hanaa al-Shalabi was transferred this evening to Israel's Meir hospital after her state of health deteriorated," Palestinian prisoner affairs minister Issa Qaraqaa told AFP.

"This morning, an independent doctor from Physicians for Human Rights-Israel examined Hanaa al-Shalabi in the name of PHR-Israel and concluded that her health had deteriorated considerably and her life was at risk," the group said.

The doctor noted "a weakening of musculature, weight loss of 14 kilos (31 pounds), a very feeble pulse and a fall in blood sodium levels," it said.

"After the examination the doctor established that the patient's life was in danger and recommended her immediate transfer to hospital for observation," it said, adding that she was taken to the Meir hospital at Kfar Saba.

Prisons spokeswoman Sivan Weizman told AFP Shalabi was returned to prison after being examined in the hospital.

Shalabi has been on hunger strike since her arrest in the northern West Bank on February 16, when she was originally ordered detained without trial for six months.

She was among more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners released in October in a trade for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, held by Gaza Strip-based militants for more than five years.





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