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Lawyer: Administrative detainees agree to end strike

May 15, 2012 10:09 A.M. (Updated: May 18, 2012 6:23 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Prisoners on long-term hunger strike agreed late Monday to join a deal ending the strikes in exchange for improved conditions, a lawyer said.

The Egyptian-brokered deal to end the mass hunger strike in Israeli jails will see the prisoners -- including Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahla on a 77-day strike -- released at the end of their administrative detention term.

Ofir Gendelman, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told Ma'an that all prisoners must end the hunger strike within 72 hours, and not later refuse food, for the deal to hold.

Palestinian prisoners society lawyer Jawad Bulous met the five hunger-strikers for several hours late Monday with prisoners representatives, he told Ma'an.

Thaer Halahla, Bilal Diab, Jaafar Izz Addin, Omar Shalal and Hasan Safadi all agreed to end their hunger strikes and be transferred to a civilian hospital in Israel for treatment, he said.

The father of Thaer Halahla, 33, told Ma'an his son telephoned him to tell him he agreed to the deal in exchange for release at the end of his current administrative detention term on June 5.

Meanwhile, the brother of Bilal Diab, 27, said he phoned their mother to tell her he will be freed at the end of his term on August 17, and had stopped his strike.

Bulous, Egyptian officials, and prisoner representatives from Hamas and Islamic Jihad witnessed the deal, he said.

Shafiq Izz Addin, brother of Jaafar who held a 54 day hunger strike, said the prisoner informed his family he will stop the strike in exchange for release at the end of his detention term on July 20.

Omar Shalal spent 69 days on hunger strike and Hasan Safadi refused food for 71 days.

Mahmoud Sirsik, a footballer from Gaza who refused food for 59 days, will also be released, but Bulous said the date had yet to be clarified.

Around 2,000 prisoners joined a mass hunger strike launched on April 17 to demand fair prison conditions, according to prisoners groups' estimates.

The group of prisoners held in administrative detention launched an earlier strike in protest at their detention without charge.

The deal to end the strike was signed by prison representatives from different factions on Monday, officials said.

Senior Hamas official Saleh Arouri, who was a member of the negotiations team, said that under the deal Israel agreed to provide a list of accusations to administrative detainees, or release them at the end of their term.

Israel also agreed to release all detainees from solitary confinement, to lift a ban on family visits for detainees from the Gaza Strip, and revoke the "Shalit law," according to the official.

The "Shalit law" restricted prisoners' access to families and to educational materials as punishment for the five-year captivity of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Shalit was freed in October in a prisoner swap agreement.
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