Palestinian hunger strikers end fast after compromise on family visits


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli prisons ended their extended hunger strike after reaching a compromise on receiving more family visits.

More than 800 prisoners ended the strike after 40 days on Saturday, which also was the first day of the monthlong Ramadan holiday, where religious Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset each day.

The halt reportedly came after Israel reached a deal with the Palestinian Authority and the Red Cross for prisoners to receive a second family visit each per month.

At its highest point, about 1,500 prisoners were refusing food. Some 18 prisoners were in the hospital when the strike ended. The striking prisoners were taking only a mixture of water and salt for sustenance.

The hunger strike was launched in mid-April with an op-ed in The New York Times by convicted Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti, who is serving multiple life sentences for the murder of five Jewish Israelis and is said to be in line as a successor to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ leadership. Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners joined the action calling for more favorable prison conditions.

Among the demands were a public pay phone for prisoner use; access to 20 television channels; giving Gaza prisoners the same visitation rights as other prisoners and increasing visitation rights for all; allowing books, magazines and newspapers to enter the prison without limitation; changing and increasing the products available at the prison store and increasing the amount of money a prisoner’s family can deposit for him; housing only four prisoners per cell; allowing prisoners to prepare their own food, and ending solitary confinement.

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