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63 Palestinian prisoners suspend hunger strike

June 25, 2014 9:22 A.M. (Updated: June 27, 2014 10:28 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (AFP) -- Sixty-three Palestinian prisoners have suspended the hunger strike which they have observed in Israeli jails since late April, one of their lawyers said Tuesday.

"The strikers, who have reached an agreement with the Israeli prison authorities, have decided to suspend their action with the approach of (the Muslim holy month of) Ramadan," lawyer Abu Snena said.

Details of the deal will be made public on Wednesday, he added.

Shawqi al-Ayasa, the minister of prisoner affairs for the newly-formed Palestinian unity government, confirmed the suspension of the hunger strike, saying a major portion of prisoners' demands had been met.

Prisoners will be returned to the jails from which they were moved when they started striking, and more details of the deal will be revealed "Wednesday or Thursday," said Qaddura Faris, chairman of the Palestinian Prisoners' Society.

In addition, talks will continue between prisoners and the Israeli Prison Service, which had been refusing to negotiate with prisoners from the beginning of the strike, Faris added.

He congratulated the hunger strikers, "who fought the occupier from within prisons."

A spokeswoman for the Israeli Prison Service did not answer calls seeking comment.

Most of the strikers involved are administrative detainees who are being held without charge for indefinitely renewable six-month periods in a procedure dating back to the British Mandate (1920-1948).

The hunger strike was launched to denounce such administrative detentions.

Israel Prisons Service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman said earlier this month that their hunger strike was the longest-ever staged by Palestinian detainees.

Some 5,000 Palestinians are being held in Israeli jails, with nearly 200 in administrative detention.

Rights groups have denounced the practice, while the Palestinian authority has pressed the international community to put pressure on Israel to scrap the measure.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has expressed concern about the deteriorating health of the Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, calling on Israel to charge or release them without delay.

In an attempt to prevent further hunger strikes, the Israeli government wants to bring in a law which would allow the authorities to force-feed prisoners.

The draft law, also denounced by human rights groups, is due to be debated in the Israeli parliament on Monday.

Ma'an staff contributed to this report.
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