Israel has finally released from prison a promising young footballer from Gaza, who they'd detained for three years without charge on suspicion of being an Islamic militant. Full of smiles within a mixture of chaos and jubilation, 25-year-old Mahmoud al-Sarsak was whisked by ambulance into a hospital in the Gaza strip for treatment. Sarsak had been on hunger strike for more than three months. In the last month alone, doctors had voiced their concerns over his ill-health although there seemed no outward sign of that at first sight here. The rising sportstar was greeted by relieved friends and family members.
His sister, Wafa said: "We did not expect that Mahmoud will be released. Thank God he is released, I hope that all prisoners will be released"
Israel detained Sarsak in 2009 when he left Gaza to play football in the occupied West Bank. They thought he was an 'Islamic Jihad terrorist'. Curiously today leaders of the Jihad joined the celebrations of his release. While imprisoned, Sarsak always strenuously denied any involvement in organising attacks and bombings on Israel.