Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails end hunger strike

Strike was called in protest against policy of detention without trial

A girl holds a placard depicting her relative during a demonstration to show solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners. Photograph:  Ammar Awad/Reuters

A girl holds a placard depicting her relative during a demonstration to show solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners. Photograph: Ammar Awad/Reuters

 

Some 120 Palestinians held in Israeli jails without trial have called off the longest hunger strike in Israel’s history.

Most of the detainees have been on a hunger strike since late April, and 75 of them required hospitalisation.

Qadura Fares, head of the Palestinian prisoners’ club, said the strike was called off partly because it failed to galvanise mass support on the Palestinian street.

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Israel’s determined policy helped bring an end to the protest.

Clear policy

The strike was called in protest against Israel’s administrative detention, a policy of holding prisoners without trial that dates back to when the British ruled Palestine from 1920-1948.

Israel prisons service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman said the policy would remain in place.

“This arrangement to end the strike does not involve any suspension or cancellation of the use of administrative detention.”

Of the approximately 5,000 Palestinians held in Israeli jails, nearly 200 are held in administrative detention.

The number is likely to rise sharply due to Israel’s current security crackdown in the West Bank following the kidnapping two weeks ago of three Israeli teenagers.

So far 371 Palestinians have been arrested – 280 of them Hamas members – and most are expected to be placed in administrative detention.

In an attempt to prevent further hunger strikes, the Israeli government plans to introduce a Bill next week that would allow the authorities to force-feed prisoners.

The draft law has been criticised by human rights groups and the Israel Medical Association, which argued that many of its members would refuse to force-feed prisoners.

Knesset member Miri Regev said the Bill would still be voted on next week, even though the strike is over.