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Palestinian Prisoners End 63-Day Hunger Strike

  • Robert Berger

Palestinians perform Friday Prayers in front of a checkpoint along Israel's separation barrier during a demonstration to support prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails, West Bank town of Bethlehem, June 6, 2014.

A group of about 80 Palestinian security prisoners held by Israel have ended a 63-day hunger strike that landed most of them in the hospital.

The strike began on April 24 to press Israel to curb its controversial policy of administrative detention, meaning prisoners can be held without trial on suspicion of involvement in terrorist activity.

The chairman of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, Qadoura Fares, said a deal with Israeli prison authorities is a step in the right direction.

"The deal is not a big victory, but dialogue will continue on easing administrative detention," Fares told Israel Radio. In the meantime, he added, Israel will end punitive measures against the hunger strikers, such as limiting family visits and removing televisions from their cells.

Fares also said the detainees will stay in the hospital until they recover, and then they will return to prison and continue their struggle for freedom.

Israeli officials also welcomed the deal.

Parliament member David Tsur told Israel Radio he is very happy the hunger strike ended, and it is always preferable to resolve such issues peacefully through an agreement with the prisoners.

Israel had feared that if any prisoners died, it would have sparked a wave of violence in the Palestinian territories. Tensions have been running high in the West Bank amid an Israeli crackdown since three Israeli teenagers disappeared while hitchhiking two weeks ago.

Israel says the seminary students were abducted by the Palestinian militant group Hamas, though Hamas neither confirms nor denies it.

Thousands of Israeli troops have been conducting house-to-house searches for the youths, creating friction and clashes with the Palestinian population. Since the teenagers disappeared, more than 360 Palestinians have been arrested, most of them members of Hamas.

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