News ID: 193609
Published: 0552 GMT May 27, 2017

Palestinian prisoners end mass hunger strike

Palestinian prisoners end mass hunger strike

Hundreds of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners ended their 40-day fast on Saturday after reaching a compromise with Israel for additional family visits, Israeli and Palestinian officials said.

Israel prison service spokeswoman Nicole Englander said the inmates declared an end to the strike Saturday morning. She said it came after Israel reached a deal with the Palestinian Authority and the Red Cross for prisoners to receive a second family visit each per month, AP reported.

Hundreds of prisoners observed the strike aimed at improving prison conditions.

The hunger strike had evolved into one of the longest such protests with this many participants since Israel's 1967 illegal occupation of territories Palestinian seek for their state in the West Bank, East Beit-ul-Moqaddas and the Gaza Strip.

On Wednesday, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein urged Israel to improve conditions.

Englander said 1,578 prisoners participated in the hunger strike overall and 834 ended their fast Saturday. She said 18 were being treated in hospitals.

Palestinians rallied behind the hunger strikers as national heroes. Palestinians hoped the protest will draw the attention of a seemingly distracted international community as the Israeli occupation hits the 50-year mark in early June.

Support for the prisoners is an emotional consensus issue; hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been jailed by Israel at one time or another since 1967.

Qadoura Fares, head of the Palestinian Prisoners' Club, which works on behalf of inmates, said some points of the agreement would be discussed further.

"Issues that had been agreed upon were improving visits and prison conditions," Fares told Reuters.

The strike was called by Marwan Barghouti, the most high-profile Palestinian jailed in Israel, to protest against solitary confinement and detention without trial, which has been applied to thousands of prisoners since the 1980s.

Barghouti, a leader in Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement, was convicted of murder over the killing of Israelis during the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, and sentenced in 2004 to five life terms. Surveys show many Palestinians want him to be their next president.

Hunger strikes are not uncommon among the 6,500 Palestinians held illegally in Israeli jails.

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