Palestinian ends hunger strike in deal

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Associated Press

Posted on March 17, 2013 at 6:35 PM

Updated Sunday, Mar 17 at 11:33 PM

EREZ CROSSING, Gaza Strip (AP) — A freed Palestinian prisoner is being given a hero's welcome in the Gaza Strip after ending his hunger strike in an Israeli jail and agreeing to a plea bargain that will confine him to the Hamas-run territory for the next 10 years.

After his release from Israeli custody, Ayman Sharawneh arrived at the Erez Crossing in an ambulance on Sunday evening.. Dozens of Palestinians waved national flags and chanted slogans calling for freedom.

Sharawneh, who is 53, appeared weak, shaky and shrunken, and was taken to a hospital in Gaza City.

A resident of the West Bank, Sharawneh had been refusing food since last July to protest his incarceration. His lawyer says his client accepted the offer of confinement to Gaza, fearing he would be sent to prison for decades in a military court hearing set for Monday.

Sharawneh, who was serving a 38-year prison sentence for participating in militant attacks, was among about 1,000 Palestinian prisoners freed in 2011 in exchange for an Israeli soldier held for five years by Hamas militants in Gaza.

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