Israel releases 83-year-old Palestinian prisoner after 17 years

Israel releases 83-year-old Palestinian prisoner after 17 years
Fuad Shubaki, 83, is on his way to the occupied West Bank to be reunited with his family.
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The Fatah member had served out his prison sentence in both Palestinian and Israeli jails [Getty images]

The oldest Palestinian prisoner in an Israeli jail was released on Monday after serving beyond a 17-year sentence for arms smuggling, an advocacy group and his son have said.

Fuad Shubaki, 83, was released from Ashkelon prison and is "on his way to Ramallah" in the occupied West Bank, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Prisoner's Club said, which was confirmed by Shubaki's son Hazem.

Shubaki, a senior member of the Fatah movement, was arrested by Palestinian security forces in 2002 at the height of the second intifada, or uprising.

He was accused of attempting to smuggle weapons from Iran to the coastal enclave of Gaza aboard the Karine A ship, which was seized by Israel in the Red Sea.

The Israeli military claimed the ship was carrying 50 tonnes of weapons, including short-range Katyusha rockets, anti-tank missiles and explosives from Iran and the Lebanese-based Shia movement Hezbollah.

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In 2002, he was detained by the Palestinian Authorities (PA) and held in a prison in the occupied West Bank town of Jericho under US and British supervision.

In 2006, the prison was stormed by Israeli forces and Shubaki was taken to Israel where he was tried in a military court.

He was sentenced to 20 years in jail, which was later reduced to 17 years.

Currently, Israel holds 4,780 Palestinian in its jails, including 29 women, 160 children and 915 detainees without charges under the "administrative detention" system, according to human rights groups.

Israeli authorities have been intensifying repressive measures against Palestinian prisoners since the Gilboa prison break in September 2021, which triggered a wave of civil disobedience campaigns by prisoners. 

Since 1967, around 1 million Palestinians have been arrested by Israeli forces.