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Palestinian prisoners end hunger strike after Israel concedes

The Palestinian prisoners began the hunger strike on April 17 [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 27 May, 2017

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Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails on hunger strike since 17 April have ended their protest, Palestinian and Israeli sources said on Saturday.

Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails on hunger strike since 17 April have ended their protest, Palestinian and Israeli sources said on Saturday, after an agreement with Israeli authorities just hours before the start of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Palestinian Prisoners Club chief Qaddura Fares said an agreement had been reached between the strikers and Israeli authorities on improving their conditions.

An Israel Prisons Service spokeswoman confirmed the hunger strike was over.

Israeli authorities conceded to one of the prisoners' main demands - that they should have two family visits a month instead of the one they were entitled to before the strike, the spokeswoman said.

The resolution of the strike came hours before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

A number of the strikers had been in sharply declining health.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas had urged US counterpart Donald Trump to raise the issue with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during his visit to the region earlier this week.

Soldiarity with hunger strikers

Demonstrations in support of the prisoners had been held across the occupied West Bank leading to repeated bloody clashes with Israeli security forces.

Last week, Palestinians observed a second general strike in solidarity with the hunger striking detainees.

In the occupied West Bank, schools, banks, and public transport closed down in observance of the strike. However, hospitals and emergency services remained open.

The Higher Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel held a meeting at Tayibe city hall, in which they had urged all Palestinian citizens of Israel to join the strike. 

Schools and emergency services were exempt from the industrial action, according to Palestinian news agency, Maan News.

Read also: Palestinian hunger strikers - The frontline of an imprisoned nation

Palestinian activists blocked roads in the West Bank that lead to Ramallah with rocks and burned tyres to ensure the general strike was observed.

More than 1,600 prisoners took part in the hunger strike that began on 17 April, ingesting only water and salt.

By the beginning of May, the number of strikers decreased to just below 1,000 people, but later said Palestinian sources the number of people joining the hunger strikes have risen by at least 300 since then.

While Palestinian prisoners have mounted repeated hunger strikes, the most recent is reportedly the largest in recent times. 

Meanwhile, Israeli settlers used the hunger strikes as an opportunity to taunt Palestinians. Days after the hunger strike was announced, dozens of Israeli settlers organised a barbeque outside a jail near Ramallah.

Some 6,500 Palestinians are currently detained by Israel for a range of offences and alleged crimes. Around 500 are held under administrative detention, which allows imprisonment without charge.

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