Palestinian prisoners end 40-day mass hunger strike after reaching deal

Hundreds of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners ended their 40-day fast on the first day of the month-long Muslim holiday of Ramadan, after reaching a compromise with Israel for additional family visits, Israeli and Palestinian officials said.

The inmates ended the strike that began on April 17, after talks held with the International Committee for the Red Cross and the Palestinian Authority concluded in an agreement to change some of the prisoners' conditions, the Prison Service Statement said.

PA leaders on Saturday applauded the prisoners' "victory", announcing it was an "important step towards full respect of the rights of Palestinian prisoners".

Almost 1,600 prisoners began the strike on April 17, which is known as Palestinian Prisoners' Day.

On Thursday, Abbas asked US President Donald Trump's special representative Jason Greenblatt to mediate over the strike, but there is no indication Washington was involved.

According to Israeli prison authorities, 1,578 Palestinian prisoners out of the almost 6,500 serving sentences in Israeli prisons were involved in the hunger strike that began 40 days ago.

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

He claimed that jailed strike organiser Marwan Barghouti cynically exploited his fellow prisoners to boost his standing in Fatah and secure his position as a possible successor to Mr Abbas.

Barghouti, who was jailed by Israel in 2002 at the height of a campaign of Palestinian suicide bombings and shooting attacks in Israeli cities, is seen by some as a potential peacemaker because of grassroots appeal among Palestinians and his support for negotiations with Israel.

It is not yet clear whether other demands by prisoners were addressed under the agreement.

Barghouti was moved to solitary confinement and received a single reported visit by the ICRC to check on his condition on 11 May.

It should be noted that the vast majority of the estimated 6,000 terrorists behind bars in Israeli jails has shown no interest in the strike from the start, seeing as it had been initiated by the PLO and most of the terrorists belong to Hamas.

Palestinian analysts hailed the deal as a victory for the hunger strikers.

The protest has continued without resolution and the health of hundreds of participating prisoners has began to "deteriorate significantly", Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, said in a statement on Wednesday.

  • Leroy Wright