Palestinian prisoners end mass hunger strike after 'Israeli U-turn'

Palestinian prisoners end mass hunger strike after 'Israeli U-turn'
2 min read
02 September, 2022
Palestinian prisoner rights groups said Israeli authorities have pledged to end the transfer of life-sentence inmates.
Palestinians took to the streets in solidarity with prisoners in the days before the hunger strike began [Anadolu via Getty]

Palestinian prisoners ended one of the biggest mass hunger strikes in recent years on Thursday afternoon, after groups representing them said Israel had met some of their demands.

Some 1,200 prisoners started their hunger strike on Thursday morning, protesting punitive measures put in place by the Israeli Prison Service after six Palestinians broke out of a high-security Israeli jail last year.

Among the restrictions had been the repeated transfer of prisoners serving life sentences, which prison rights groups told The New Arab was detrimental to their welfare.

The Supreme National Emergency Committee of the National Captive Movement said in a statement: "We decided to stop the step of the open hunger strike after the prison administration retracted its decision to regularly arbitrarily transfer prisoners serving life sentences."

The head of the Palestinian Prisoners' and Ex-Prisoners' Affairs Authority Qadri Abu Bakr told The New Arab's Arabic-language sister site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that the strike ended "after a dialogue session for prisoners with the occupation prisons administration".

The New Arab has contacted the Israeli Prison Service for comment on the alleged retraction.

Israel currently holds 4,450 Palestinian inmates, according to data from prisoner rights group Addameer.

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Prisoner discontent has grown since Israel undertook mass punishment against inmates after six Palestinians, all but one of whom were members of the Islamic Jihad group, tunneled their way out of Israel's high-security Gilboa Prison last September.

All six of the men were recaptured and placed in solitary confinement, where they remain almost a year later.

In the immediate aftermath of the jailbreak, Israel held Palestinian prisoners under lockdown, denying them food and access to outside space.

A mass hunger strike had initially been planned for March, but was suspended after Israeli authorities agreed to revoke punitive measures against prisoners.

However, the prisoner leadership announced early in August that a hunger strike would go ahead after Israel apparently resumed its arbitrary prison transfers.

In the days leading up to the hunger strike, the prisoner leadership called for Palestinians to protest at Israeli checkpoints in solidarity with the inmates.