After a 20-hour negotiation session, Israeli authorities and Palestinian prisoners reached an agreement following which the latter decided to end their hunger strike in Israeli jails which had continued for the past 40 days. Issa Qaraqe, the head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, confirmed the deal on Saturday morning, May 27. The hunger strikers’ demands included appropriate medical care and treatment in Israeli prisons, as well as an end to solitary confinement and the policy of administrative detention, i.e., imprisonment without trial or charge.
More than 1,600 Palestinian prisoners participated in the hunger strike, dubbed the “Freedom and Dignity Strike” which started on April 17. Marwan Barghouti, a jailed leader of the Palestinian Fatah movement, led the strike.
As the hunger strike lengthened, there had been rising concerns about the medical condition of striking Palestinian inmates, some of whom had been taken to hospital with deteriorating health.
On Friday, Palestinian demonstrators poured out onto the streets of the occupied West Bank and blockaded Gaza Strip to express their solidarity with the hunger strikers. Israeli forces clashed with the demonstrators in the West Bank town of Beita near the city of Nablus, during which a Palestinian was injured with a live bullet and 11 others suffered tear gas inhalation. There were also similar clashes in the West Bank village of Qalandiya and the city of Khan Yunis in the Israeli-besieged Gaza Strip.
Some 6,500 Palestinians are currently being held in Israeli jails, 536 of them arbitrarily, according to figures provided by the Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer in January. Palestinian inmates repeatedly complain that they are subject to assault and torture in Israeli prisons.