Deal Struck to Release Terrorist Prisoner on Hunger Strike

RAMALLAH (Reuters) -

A Palestinian terrorist prisoner whose hunger strike had stoked weeks of protests ended his eight-month on-off fast on Tuesday in exchange for early release by Israel, Palestinian officials said.

Israeli and Palestinian officials had feared that if Samer al-Issawi, 32, died because of refusing food, it might have led to mass unrest.

Under a deal signed by Issawi and a military prosecutor, he will serve eight more months for violating bail conditions from an earlier release, the officials said, announcing he had ended the strike.

He will then be allowed to go to his home in Yerushalayim, Qadura Fares, head of the Palestinian prisoner organization, told Reuters.

Israel convicted Issawi of opening fire on an Israeli bus in 2002, but released him in 2011 along with more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit.

He was re-arrested last July after Israel said he violated the terms of his release by crossing from eastern Yerushalayim to Yehudah and Shomron, and ordered him to stay in jail until 2029 — his original sentence.