Palestinian prisoners in Israel end mass hunger strike

Posted May 31, 2017

Over 800 Palestinians jailed in Israeli prisons ended a 40-day hunger strike on Saturday after reaching an agreement over their demands.

The Prisons Service said that most of the inmates on strike were aligned with Fatah.

An Israel Prisons Service spokeswoman confirmed the hunger strike was over but said the deal had been reached not with prisoners' representatives but with the Palestinian Authority and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

According to reports in Israeli media - including the Haaretz newspaper, citing prison service officials - the deal will see the number of monthly family visits increased to two, from the current one a month.

Israel will cut the supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip in two weeks, Israel's Ynetnews reported yesterday, quoting the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Major General Yoav Mordechai. By the end of strike, some 850 were still participating.

Some of the prisoners will be on their 37th day of hunger strike when Trump meets Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem in the West Bank on Tuesday.

Palestinian protesters argue with Israeli soldiers during clashes in the West Bank town of Beita, May 26, 2017.

The strike was called to protest against solitary confinement and detention without trial.

According to the Israeli officials, Barghouti and the other prisoners agreed to call off the strike after the PA promised to pay for the additional visits, at an estimated cost of $6 million per year.

The strike was led by Marwan Barghouti, a Palestinian leader in jail for life after being convicted of murder. "There is a perception this is a victory for the prisoners, and for Marwan [Barghouti], because he embarked on a strike the Palestinian Authority wasn't that excited about".

There are now 6,500 Palestinian political prisoners held by Israel, including more than 500 administrative detainees, according to Jerusalem-based prisoner rights group Addameer.

"This is an important step towards full respect of the rights of Palestinian prisoners under global law".

Also Saturday, thousands of Israelis demonstrated in central Tel Aviv in the evening in support of establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel to end the conflict.