Israel exiles former Palestinian detainee to Gaza

GAZA Sun Apr 1, 2012 12:04pm EDT

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GAZA (Reuters) - A Palestinian woman held by Israel without charge was deported to the Gaza Strip on Sunday under a deal that ended her 44-day hunger strike.

Hana Shalabi of the Islamic Jihad militant group was put into so-called "administrative detention" on February 16. An Israeli military official said that in return for her release from jail, she had agreed to three years' exile in the Gaza Strip.

A resident of the occupied West Bank, Shalabi went on hunger strike the day she was arrested, in protest at being held without trial. An Israeli official has said she was suspected of involvement in planned Islamic Jihad attacks.

She had been jailed previously by Israel and freed in October as part of a swap for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held captive in Hamas Islamist-ruled Gaza for more than five years.

Shalabi arrived in Gaza before nightfall in an ambulance, after a tearful farewell with family members who saw her at Gaza's Erez crossing with Israel before she was deported, medics who escorted her said.

Israel says it uses detention without trial to protect intelligence sources in any legal proceedings against a Palestinian suspect.

The measure has drawn criticism from human rights groups and the European Union.

Palestinian officials in both the West Bank and Gaza voiced objections to Shalabi's deportation.

Islamic Jihad leader Khader Habib, who waited to greet Shalabi at the Erez crossing, said his faction had not been consulted about the deal.

Hussein al-Sheikh, an official in President Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, said last week "we were not part of the deal and we reject deportations".

Last month, Israel struck a deal with another member of Islamic Jihad, Khader Adnan, persuading him to end his 66-day fast, after assuring him that he would be released before his six-month "administrative detention" term was over.

At least another two-dozen Palestinian inmates remain on hunger strike in Israeli jails.

(Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan; Editing by Alison Williams)

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