Mahmoud Sarsak’s Smile

Mahmoud Sarsak a player on the Palestinian national football team and a man of incredible courage was released from three years in Israeli ‘administrative detention’ today. He was held without charge all that time and spent 92 days on hunger strike to protest the terrible injustice of his detention.

I’ve written about the disgrace that is Israel hosting the under 21 UEFA championships here , about Israel’s criminal practices against Palestinian prisoners and their inspirational hunger strikes.

But today is about Mahmoud Sarsak, looking at the pictures of him in Gaza and the reception he got from his people, I was imagining how elated and proud people here would be if an Irish footballer had been released in the same circumstances, the welcome he would get.

Seeing Mahmoud with his mother and father and their tears of joy would make your heart sing.

But most of all it was his smile, his big, brilliant smile lighting up the day. What a sight, what a fantastic sight.

We can’t forget Akram Rikhawi, 90 days into his hunger strike, Samer Al-Barq, on his 50th day and Hassan Safadi,  on his 20th day – may they get the justice they deserve and salvage their health. The levels of courage and strength required to undertake such hunger strikes are immense and these men need all our support.

For more information on Palestinian prisoners, see


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