Palestinian Prisoners End Hunger Strike

YERUSHALAYIM (Hamodia Staff) -

Dozens of Palestinian prisoners on Wednesday ended their 63-day-long hunger strike after reaching a deal with Israeli prison authorities.

Israel Prisons Service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman confirmed to AFP that a “short-term agreement” was reached which allowed for the hunger-strikers, all of whom are being treated in hospital due to their failing health, to call off the strike.

“But this arrangement does not involve any suspension or cancellation of the use of administrative detention,” Weizman said, referring to a key demand of the strikers. “This measure will continue to be used.”

Administrative detention is a measure under which persons suspected of security offenses can be jailed for prolonged periods without trial to avoid court proceedings that could expose sensitive intelligence information.

The agreement “states that the prisoners stay in hospital until they recover, and then they will be taken to the prisons they were in before the strike while Israel ends punitive measures against them,” according to Qadoura Fares, an advocate for the prisoners. The measures included limited visits by family members as well as removal of amenities from their jail cells.

The hunger strike was launched April 24 and involved 77prisoners, according to Fares.

The deal was not a triumph for them, but came as result of the strike’s failure, a senior Palestinian official told The Times of Israel on Wednesday.

Although they were able to negotiate for some improvement in the conditions of their imprisonment, the official said that the strike was brought to an end due to public apathy. At a time when the entire country is preoccupied with the fate of three kidnapped Israeli teens, little sympathy or support was forthcoming for Palestinians in jail.

Meanwhile, members of Knesset reached agreement to go ahead on Monday with a vote on a bill allowing hunger-striking prisoners to be force-fed, despite the end of the strike.

Hours before the hunger strike ended, Knesset Interior Committee chairwoman Miri Regev (Likud) reached a compromise with Yesh Atid faction chairman Ofer Shelah, whose party threatened to vote against the bill, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Regev accepted Yesh Atid’s proposed revisions to soften the bill, except for delaying the date on which it would go into effect within six months.