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Minister: Detainees suspend strike after deal on isolation

Oct. 17, 2011 7:40 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 18, 2011 3:44 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Palestinians jailed in Israel suspended a three-week hunger strike on Monday, the minister of detainee affairs in Ramallah said.

Issa Qaraqe told the official Wafa news agency that prisoners ended the strike after Israeli prison authorities agreed to end the practice of solitary confinement.

Israel will stop holding detainees in isolation on Tuesday, immediately after releasing 477 prisoners in a swap deal to free captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Qaraqe said.

Prisoners went on hunger strike on Sept. 27 to protest harsher conditions since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to toughen measures in June to pressure Hamas to free Shalit.

An end to solitary confinement was a key demand of the strikers.

The protest was started by detainees affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, whose leader Ahmad Saadat has been held in isolation for three years. Saadat, who joined the hunger strike, was one of several prominent prisoners left out of the swap deal.

PFLP central committee member Jamil Mizhir warned on Monday that the movement would take action against Israel after receiving reports that Saadat had been transferred to hospital.

Mizhir said in a statement that the group blamed Israel for his health condition,

"If Saadat's condition is at risk, the PFLP response will be very harsh," Mizhir warned.

According to recent estimates from the Palestinian Authority, there are currently 6,000 Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli jails.
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