Palestinian prisoners end hunger strike


JERUSALEM (JTA) – Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have agreed to end their hunger strike.

The agreement completed Monday afternoon ends a 28-day strike by at least 1,400 Palestinian prisoners. In exchange for concessions from the Israel Prison Service and the Shin Bet security service, the prisoners signed a commitment to halt terrorist activity inside Israeli prisons.

Egypt and the Palestinian Authority mediated the deal with the Palestinian prisoners, according to the Shin Bet.

Under the deal, Israel agreed to ease the conditions under which the prisoners are being held. These include returning prisoners held in separation to the general prison wings and allowing family visits by first-degree relatives for security prisoners from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. An Israel Prison Service committee will discuss additional claims by the prisoners regarding the conditions under which they are being held.

Visits from Gaza were stopped in 2006 after Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was captured and held in Gaza. 

The prisoners were on an open-ended hunger strike, calling for an end to solitary confinement and isolation; for allowing families of prisoners from the Gaza Strip to visit their loved ones; and allowing prisoners to have newspapers, learning materials and specific television channels.

Reading material will continue to be restricted, and the prisoners will not be permitted to return to studying for university degrees, according to reports.

The strikers were also protesting administrative detention, in which a prisoner can be held without charges for up to four months; it can also be renewed.

Two of the hunger strikers — Bilal Diab, 27, of Jenin, and Thaer Halahla, 33, of Hebron, who are both members of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization — were on a hunger strike for 75days, placing their lives in danger.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad have threatened consequences if any of the hunger strikers die.

The Israeli Prison Service said in a statement Monday evening that throughout the strike, the strikers were under close medical care and received professional treatment as necessary, including check-ups and hospitalization. Upon the conclusion of the strike, the medical monitoring will continue in order to prevent possible complications from an unsupervised return to eating.


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