Palestinian Prisoners Rearrested After Freed in Shalit Deal Plan Warning Hunger Strike

Hunger strikers include 63 prisoners released in the Shalit swap and subsequently rearrested, most of them following the June kidnapping of three Israeli youths.

AFP / Haaretz archive

Several dozen Palestinian prisoners released in the 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange and subsequently rearrested are planning to go on a hunger strike on Tuesday, Middle East Online website reported.

The Ramallah-based Prisoners' Club said Monday the strike will be observed by 63 prisoners who were among a group of 1,027 freed by Israel under the terms of a 2011 swap arrangement.

They have all since been rearrested, most in the wave of arrests that followed the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli youths in the West Bank in June.

The strike is timed to coincide with the resumption of indirect truce talks in Cairo aimed at supplementing the ceasefire deal that went into effect on August 26, ending six weeks of hostilities.

Among the issues on the table in Cairo is the possibility of a new prisoner swap, in which Hamas would hand over the remains of two IDF soldiers killed in the Gaza war in exchange for Israel freeing an unspecified number of prisoners.

The hunger strikers' aim was to "demand that the Palestinian negotiators find a solution to the situation and ensure their release as quickly as possible", according to a statement released by the prisoners' club.

Bassem al-Salhi, a member of the Palestinian negotiating team, said Tuesday's meeting would "allow a timetable to be put in place for (talks which would take place) after Eid al-Adha", the Muslim feast of sacrifice which this year falls on the first weekend of October.

"Since the start, the Palestinians have asked that the prisoners question be discussed, but the Israelis have categorically refused to deal with this matter," he said, referring to talks in the run-up to the August ceasefire deal.

More than 7,000 Palestinians are currently in Israeli jails, according to figures provided by the prisoners' club.