Palestinian Detainees Reach Deal to End Hunger Strike

Terms of agreement with Israel Prison Service will be released only after prisoners receive treatment and their condition stabilizes.

Palestinians in Hebron demonstrating in support of hunger-striking prisoners.
Palestinians in Hebron demonstrating in support of hunger-striking prisoners, June 20, 2014. AFP

Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons ended a two-month-long hunger strike overnight Tuesday after a deal was struck with the Israel Prison Service.

The details of the deal, it was agreed by the sides, will only be made public after the hunger strikers receive treatment and their condition stabilizes.

Sources in the Palestinian Prisoners Club told Haaretz that Israel has agreed to some of their terms and said that a press conference will be held on the matter on Wednesday.

On April 24, Palestinians under administrative detention in Israeli jails launched a hunger strike demanding that Israel end the practice of holding Palestinians in prison without a trial. Initially some 125 detainees took part in the strike, though their numbers recently decreased to 80. Dozens of Palestinian prisoners, which are not under administrative detention, also joined the protest.

All in all, Israel Prison Service confirmed earlier this month that 290 prisoners and detainees were on hunger strike at the time. During the strike, the inmates agreed only to drink water with vitamins, salt and sugar. 70 of them were hospitalized.

The hunger strike prompted the government to fast-track discussions on a bill that would allow the force-feeding of Palestinian security prisoners on hunger strike. Israeli health-care workers vehemently opposed the bill, saying that it would severely violate human rights and medical ethics, as well as various international conventions.  

Lapid's Yesh Atid faction has agreed to support the controversial bill after it was modified, paving way for its passage in the Knesset on Monday. In the new version of the bill, force-feeding will be allowed only in cases where a doctor is of the opinion that without the treatment “there is a real possibility that within a short period of time risk to the life of the prisoner or serious irreversible disability will occur.”

The party’s most important demand, to delay the implementation of the law for six months so that it would not apply to the prisoners now on a hunger strike, was not accepted.

In December, a Palestinian prisoner was released from Israeli jail after an eight-month-long hunger strike and a public campaign against his administrative detention. Samer Issawi, 32, from a suburb of Jerusalem, was released as part of the 2011 Shalit exchange deal with Hamas. In 2012, he was arrested after he violated the terms of his release. Issawi was again arrested by Israeli forces in recent days during a West Bank crackdown against Hamas.