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June 6, 2017 | by  | in News |
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Palestinian Hunger Strike Ends

A hunger strike conducted by around 1500 Palestinian prisoners in Israel has ended after 40 days. The strike was suspended on Friday, after talks led to a deal with the Israel Prison Service that meets one of the strikers’ main demands  an increase in family visitation.

The strike began on April 17, and was led by prominent Palestinian politician Marwan Barghouti who was imprisoned in 2004 for murdering Israeli soldiers during the Second Intifada (Palestinian uprising).

The purpose of the strike was to demand better conditions in Israeli jails, including more family visits and communication, better healthcare, and an end to solitary confinement.

The deal was reached despite the insistence of Israel’s Minister of Public Security, Gilad Erdan, that they would not surrender to the strike.

Spokesperson for the Israel Prison Service Nicole Englander confirmed that it was after discussions with the Palestinian National Authority and the Red Cross that the deal for prisoners to receive a second family visit per month was reached.

Qadoura Fares, Head of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, stated that the negotiations were between Israeli officials and a group of prisoners, including Barghouti. However, the Israeli Prison Service denied that they had negotiated with prisoners about “providing perks” in exchange for an end to the strike.

The details and specifics of the agreement have not been fully disclosed by Barghouti or the Israel Prison Service.

The health of the strikers was another driving force behind the agreement. On May 25, the Red Cross made a statement warning of the “potentially irreversible health consequences” of continuing the strike.

There are currently 6,500 Palestinians who are imprisoned for political crimes. These offences range from stone throwing to killing Israeli soldiers and citizens in attacks.

The strike was the largest of its kind in 50 years and is being celebrated by Palestinians as a great and unifying success.

Xavier Abu Eid, spokesperson for the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, released a statement saying that the hunger strike was “an important step towards full respect of the rights of Palestinian prisoners under international law.” He also commented that it was “an indication of the reality of the Israeli occupation” that the prisoners had no choice but to “starve themselves to achieve basic rights.”

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