This content is not available in your region

Palestinian footballer: 84 days on hunger strike

Palestinian footballer: 84 days on hunger strike
Text size Aa Aa

A UN human rights expert has called for the “immediate release” of Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Al Sarsak who has been on hunger strike in an Israeli jail for 84 days.

Richard Falk, the Special Envoy to the Occupied Palestinian Territories says the 25-year-old has “suffered immensely.”

“We never see him. We get news about him from his lawyers and that’s it,” said his mother. “He loved sports. If we said ‘Let’s go to the market’ he used to say ‘I’m not going; I want to go to a match or for football training’. All his time was spent on football fields.”

Al Sarsak, who is from the Gaza Strip, stopped eating in protest at his detention without charge. He was arrested in 2009 on a visit to the West Bank to attend a Palestinian national team football match.

Human rights groups are worried that Al Sarsak is just clinging to life.

“We are afraid that if there is an emergency, which is possible after such a long hunger strike, especially involving heart failure, the doctors won’t be able to provide adequate care,” said Anat Litvin from the Israeli organisation Physicians for Human Rights.

His lawyer says Al Sarsak has lost at least 10 kilos and has been having injections to combat pain, weakness and deteriorating eyesight.