Hamas and Islamic Jihad Prisoners in Israel End 14-day-long Hunger Strike

Prisoners' call to remove cellular jamming devices from their wards as punishment over smuggled cellphones was not met, but other minor concessions were given

The Nafha Prison in Israel.
Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Eight-eight Palestinian security prisoners affiliated with Hamas and Islamic Jihad ended Wednesday evening their 14-day-long hunger strike, the Israel Prison Service announced. 

The prisoners were striking in protest over the installation of jamming devices that interrupted their usage of cellular phones in prison wards, which had been placed there to prevent them from using cellphones smuggled into cells. 

The Israel Prison Service said that the prisoners' demand to end the blocking was rejected. But as opposed to the service’s official announcement, negotiations were held with the prisoners’ leadership to reach an understanding and ensure the protest did not get out of control. 

The prisoners, from the Ramon, Nafkha, Ketziot and Gilboa prisons, were punished by being placed in isolation.

The strike did not achieve much in terms of concessions, but the prisoners did receive the option to decide on which days of the week they will be permitted to use the public phones that were recently installed in the wards — a decision that so far was in the hands of the Israel Prison Service.

According to the prisoners, the IPS had also committed to fixing or replacing damaged earphones that the prisoners have been using to listen to television broadcasts in their cells. Furthermore, imprisoned Hamas leaders have been returned to the wards were they were held prior to launching the strike. 

The strike began two weeks ago, after Israel had already started operating the public phones in security wards. Those behind it are prisoners from East Jerusalem, rather than the organizers of the bloody 2002 Netanya Passover massacre, who are considered to be Hamas leadership in prison. Hamas leaders were dragged into joining following the protest of Ramadan Mashara, who planned the Patt Junction suicide bus bombing in Jerusalem in 2002; that attack claimed the lives of 19 people and wounded 74 others.