Fears for failing health of Palestinian hunger striker

The health of a Palestinian prisoner who has been on hunger strike for months took a turn for the worse on Wednesday, a lawyer for the Ramallah-based Prisoners' Club told AFP.

Samer Issawi, who has been refusing food since August, is currently being held in Kaplan hospital near Tel Aviv.

But Israeli doctors treating him raised the alarm over his state of health on Wednesday, informing the Prisoners' Club that he had suffered cardiac failure, Jawad Boulos told AFP.

"The doctors told me that the prisoner Issawi was at risk of dying after a cardiac failure stopped the circulation of fluids within his body," he said.

Earlier this week, Issawi stopped taking fluids in protest at his legs being shackled to his hospital bed, but had started drinking again after the restraints were removed, Boulos said.

Contacted by AFP, Israel Prisons Service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman said there was "no change" in Issawi's state of health and that the hospital was "working to prevent any deterioration" in his health.

Last month, protests in support of four Palestinian prisoners on long-term hunger strike swept the West Bank, often deteriorating into violent clashes with Israeli troops.

Issawi was one of hundreds of long-term security prisoners released by Israel under a prisoner swap deal in October 2011, but he was rearrested in July last year following allegations that he violated the terms of the agreement.

Israel has ordered that he serve out the remainder of his original sentence.

He is one of four prisoners who have been refusing food for months in protest at their being held by Israel, although two of them, Jaafar Ezzeddine and Tariq Qaadan, ended their hunger strike on February 27 pending a hearing on their case.

The fourth prisoner, Ayman Sharawna, is still refusing food.