Palestinian prisoners in Israel end hunger strike

Published 10:04 am Wednesday, June 25, 2014

JERUSALEM — Dozens of Palestinian prisoners on Wednesday ended their 63-day-long hunger strike over detentions without charges after reaching a deal with Israeli prison authorities, a Palestinian official said.

The development came against the backdrop of a broad Israeli ground operation in the West Bank in search of three Israeli teens who went missing in the Palestinian territory nearly two weeks ago. There have also been near-daily rocket attacks from Gaza, prompting Israeli airstrikes in retaliation.

Overnight Wednesday, a rocket fired by Palestinian militants toward Israel exploded in the northern Gaza Strip, killing a 3-year-old Palestinian girl and wounding three other people. A Gaza security official said the rocket was misfired and exploded prematurely inside the coastal strip. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

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Since 2012, Palestinian prisoners have staged a series of hunger strikes, sometimes as individuals and sometimes in larger groups, to protest “administrative detention,” a policy that can keep some prisoners in custody for months or years without charges. Israel has defended the practice as a necessary tool to stop militant activity, including attacks.

About 5,000 Palestinians are imprisoned in Israel for alleged offenses ranging from rock throwing to deadly militant attacks. Of those, some 190 are administrative detainees, while another 143 Palestinians detained in recent raids have also been held under the policy.

The latest hunger strike was launched April 24, with 77 prisoners still participating before Wednesday’s settlement, according to Qadoura Fares, an advocate for Palestinian prisoners. The deal was struck with Israel’s Prisons Authority, said Minister of Prisoner Affairs Shawqi Al-Aissa.

Fares said the agreement “states that the prisoners stay in hospital until they recover, and then they will be taken to the prisons they were in before the strike while Israel ends punitive measures against them.”