The Palestinians stopped their 40-day hunger strike on Saturday, yet there is already a dispute with Israel over the understandings reached to end it.
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On Sunday afternoon, the head of prisoner affairs for the Palestinian Authority, Issa Qaraqe, announced that according to the understandings reached with the Israel Prison Services, the prisoners will be able to meet with their children without partitions, the frequency of visits to prisoners whose family lives in the Gaza Strip will increase from once every two months to once a month, and the searches in the cells at night will stop.
The Prison Service responded that Qaraqe’s statements are false, and that there were no such negotiations with the prisoners about prisoner “perks.”
The prisoners informed PA lawyers in a meeting on Sunday morning of the understandings that had been reached with the IPS. The strike of the security prisoners ended reportedly after the sides agreed that the number of family visits to the prisoners would be doubled - from one visit a month to two.
Qaraqe stated that a prisoner’s first-degree relative who was banned for security reasons previously could not visit the prisoner, but that under the new understandings could visit him subject to submitting a request in advance. Qaraqe noted additional agreements with the IPS, including better clinics to which the prisoners will be sent to instead of the IPS clinic in Ramle; that female security prisoners will all be in one prison and only female prison wardens will conduct searches on them; all the prisons will have a kitchen area; time in the prison yard will be extended from 10 minutes a day to 12; new TV channels; additional items in the canteen; items such as clothing and sheets can be brought in from the outside; and the IPS will allow the prisoner to be photographed with his wife and children without partitions.
According to Qaraqe, there are additional issues that have not yet been agreed upon, including installing a public telephone in the wings, academic studies and the solitary confinement policy for prisoners. Qaraqe added that a prisoners’ committee has been established under the authority of Fatah prisoner Karim Younes. It is to discuss the other issues with the IPS and security authorities. He said the prisoner affairs administration would soon publish an announcement from Marwan Barghouti about the strike and the agreements.
An IPS spokesman commented, “The end of the strike was made possible due to the PA agreement to pay for the second visit each month instead of the Red Cross, as was the case up until a few months ago.” He added: “The reports issued on behalf of Issa Qaraqe about providing perks to the security prisoners in return for ending the strike are false. Nor have there been any negotiations on the matter.”