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1,600 hunger strikers’ victory

On 14 May, some 1,600 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons won major concessions from the Israeli prison service, leading them to end their mass hunger strike which started on 17 April (see PN 2545).

The 14 May written agreement, brokered by Egypt, commits the Israeli authorities to: re-starting visits from immediate family; ending ‘long-term’ solitary confinement; creating a prisoner liaison committee; and creating a new framework for Palestinians in ‘administrative detention’.

These 308 prisoners, held without charge or trial, will not be put under new detention orders when their current period of detention ends – unless the secret files on which their detention was based contains ‘very serious’ information. 

These terms are vague, allowing Israel plenty of wriggle room, and there is no provision for independent verification of the implementation of the agreement. Nevertheless, this is a great victory.

The Israeli authorities were forced to make concessions for fear of being held responsible for large numbers of prisoner deaths.

At the time of the agreement, four prisoners had passed the 70-day mark, and seven had gone 50 days without food.

Khader Adnan, a Palestinian baker who fasted for 66 days against both his detention without charge and the beatings and mistreatment he was receiving in prison (see PN 2543), was released early on 17 April as the result of his hunger strike, which inspired the mass action.

David Polden is the PN news editor.