Hunger strike called off


A Palestinian woman prisoner being held in Israeli "administrative detention" who has refused food for more than one month gave up her hunger strike yesterday, her family said. Ms Itaf al-Ayyan, suspected by Israel of belonging to the radical Palestinian group Islamic Jihad, ended her action after gaining assurances that she would be released soon, her family said.

Ms Ayyan (35) had been on hunger strike since her arrest on October 21st and was moved to a prison hospital near Tel Aviv earlier this month. Her family said she was expected to be released after the expiration in January of the detention order.

Ms Eissa Qaraqeh, the head of the Palestinian rights group Prisoners' Club in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, said Ms Ayyan's husband had asked her to end her strike, which had sparked numerous solidarity protests in the Palestinian territories.

Israel holds some 880 Palestinians in "administrative detention," a policy of open-ended detention without charge or trial, according to Prisoner Club figures.

Twenty Palestinians were injured by rubber bullets fired by Israeli soldiers on Saturday during a demonstration in Bethlehem to voice their support for Ms Ayyan.

Ms Ayyan was arrested as she made her way to a suburb of east Jerusalem for a Jihad meeting, amid a crackdown against Islamic militants launched by the army in August. She had already served nine years in an Israeli prison but was freed in a general release of 30 women prisoners by Israel in February.