Thursday, May 17, 2012 | return to: news & features, international


Palestinian prisoners end hunger strike

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Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have agreed to end their hunger strike.

The May 14 agreement, mediated by Egypt and the Palestinian Authority,  ends one of the largest mass strikes of Palestinian prisoners. Two men launched the strike on Feb. 28, refusing food for 77 days. At least 1,600 other Palestinian prisoners, more than a third of the prison population, joined the strike on April 17, fasting for 27 days.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad had threatened consequences if any of the hunger strikers died.

The prisoners signed a commitment to halt terrorist activity inside Israeli prisons. In return, Israel agreed to ease the conditions under which the prisoners are being held. These include returning prisoners held in separation to the general prison wings and allowing family visits by first-degree relatives for security prisoners from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Visits from Gaza were stopped in 2006 after Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was captured and held in Gaza.

Israel had been reluctant to concede to the Palestinian demands, worried it would spark more collective action. Officials noted that many of the hunger strikers were convicted of perpetrating, or being involved in, attacks that killed civilians. — jta & ap


Posted by Dan Spitzer
05/17/2012  at  03:30 PM
Those Israelis Who Didn't Want to Give in to the Hunger Strikers...

were right. In the Arab world, we have seen any sign of compromise is believed to demonstrate a weakness to prey upon. Witness the reponses to the Israeli pull out from Gaza and southern Lebanon.

If the Palestinians from pro-genocide organizations such as Islamic Jihad and Hamas wished to continue with their hunger strike, the Israelis should have accommodated them…

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Posted by Joel Rubinstein
05/20/2012  at  06:19 PM
In managing prisoners, harshest is not best

Thank you, Dan, for your opinion. The article does not mention what was probably the biggest grievance of the hunger strikers: Israel’s practice of administrative detention, in which someone can be held in prison, without charges and without trial, a six-month period, which can be renewed an unlimited number of times. There are over 300 Palestinians in administrative detention in Israel. I hope all of us, who love Israel understand Israel’s need for security, also see a significant problem, and a conflict with our Torah values, that over 300 human beings are held without charge, without trial, and without time limit. Israel has promised to sharply restrict, but not abolish, administrative detention. This is a good thing. It means that most administrative detainees will be given the chance to confront and fight the charges against them in court, or be freed. This is a basic hallmark of justice. As for regular convicted prisoners, Israel agreed to restore family visitation privileges and improve conditions. This is not a bad thing either. It doesn’t cost Israel anything and it is conducive to rehabilitation.

The Palestinians coaxed Israel to compromise, not by throwing rocks, not by launching missiles, and not by blowing up buses, but by the peaceful tactic of a hunger strike. One hopes that Palestinians will learn from this success and continue to coax Israel to improve conditions for Palestinians through peaceful, non-violent protest.

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