Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised senior officials for their involvement in bringing the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike to a close on Tuesday.
“I congratulate Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and Prison Service Commissioner Aharon Franko on their determined, professional and steadfast work in bringing an end to the prisoners’ hunger strike,” Netanyahu said Wednesday in a meeting with Italian Senate President Pietro Grasso. “We took a clear policy which led to this important result and we will now add other means so that there will be fewer prisoners’ strikes in the future.”
Dozens of Palestinian prisoners struck a deal with Israeli prisons to end their hunger strike because it was clear that it had failed, a senior Palestinian official told The Times of Israel on Wednesday.
While the prisoners were able to negotiate for some improvement in the conditions of their imprisonment, the official said they were primarily motivated by a realization that the issue had faded from the public agenda — presumably because of the kidnapping of three Israeli teens and ensuing IDF crackdown — and that their efforts would not lead to an end to the practice of administrative detention by Israel.
On Tuesday, 63 of 290 Palestinian prisoners suspended the strike, which they have been engaged in since late April, one of their lawyers said.
The source, who is close to the Palestinian Fatah movement, said it was possible the strike’s end was connected to the controversial force-feeding law being brought to a vote next week.
The bill was set to go ahead Wednesday after a short delay stemming from a disagreement between Yesh Atid and coalition partners was resolved Tuesday evening.
The prisoners began refusing food on April 24 in protest of a policy that allows them to be held without charge or trial under a controversial procedure called administrative detention, which can be indefinitely extended for years.
“The strikers, who have reached an agreement with the Israeli prison authorities, have decided to suspend their action with the approach of Ramadan,” lawyer Ashraf Abu Snena said, referring to the Muslim month of fasting which begins this weekend.
Israel confirmed the agreement, details of which were to be made public later on Wednesday.
Israel Prison Service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman told AFP the sides has reached a “short-term agreement” which allowed for the hunger strikers, all of whom have been hospitalized due to their rapidly failing health, to suspend their action.
“But this arrangement does not involve any suspension or cancellation of the use of administrative detention,” Weizman said.
“This measure will continue to be used.”
Earlier this month, the prisons service said the hunger strike was the longest-ever staged by Palestinian detainees.
Avi Issacharoff and AFP contributed to this report.