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Hamas prisoners reach agreement with Israel Prison Service to end mass hunger strike

Aug. 6, 2016 2:44 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 7, 2016 5:03 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Hamas-affiliated prisoners reached an agreement Saturday with the Israel Prison Service (IPS) to end their days-long mass hunger strike, according to the Prisoner’s Media Office, a Gaza-based organization covering Palestinian prisoner-related news.

The group published the terms of the agreement that was reached, which included ending all types of “humiliating searches” -- specifically strip searching -- improving the living conditions of Hamas-affiliated prisoners in Israel’s Nafha prison, by installing proper ventilation and reducing prisoner congestion.

The terms of the agreement also included returning the head of the Higher Commission of Hamas Prisoners, Muhammad Irman, from Israel’s Hadarim prison back to Nafha prison within a period of six months, as well as returning all prisoners who were previously moved to other prisons, back to their original locations.

The agreement stated that the IPS would agree to several other demands for prisoners concerning daily life, which included allowing books to be brought in during family visitation, and allowing prisoners access to watch an additional news channel.

Hundreds of Hamas-affiliated prisoners in Nafha, Rimon, and Eshel prisons launched a hunger strike Wednesday in protest of the “humiliation and oppression” they faced at the hand of Israeli authorities.

Hamas leader Abd al-Rahman al-Shadid said in a statement that over 300 of the movement's members in Israeli prisons launched a hunger strike which would continue until their demands were met.

Al-Shahid said that Hamas-affiliated prisoners were abused, beaten, and strip searched while being moved days prior to them joining the strike.

The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) reported Thursday that 285 Hamas-affiliated prisoners held at the Eshel and Nafha prisons entered an open hunger strike amid ongoing protests of some 40 prisoners from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) who have been hunger striking in support of fellow prisoner Bilal Kayid.

Kayid has been on hunger strike for more than 50 days in protest of being sentenced to administrative detention -- internment without trial or charges -- on the day he was meant to be released from prison after serving a 14-and-a-half year sentence.

The large-scale solidarity movement among prisoners has resulted in an equally massive crackdown by the IPS, which has conducted multiple raids, cell block closures, confiscations of personal property, and transfers of detainees in attempts to quell the strikes.

The ongoing prisoners movement has inspired sit-ins across the occupied Palestinian territory organized by families of incarcerated hunger strikers and their supporters.

Members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) carried out a sit-in in Gaza City in solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners on Thursday.

The deputy speaker of the PLC in Gaza, Ahmad Bahr, called on all Palestinian resistance factions and their military wings to unite to release prisoners from Israeli custody.

Bahr also demanded that the Palestinian Authority end its controversial security coordination with Israel. “We must unite to free prisoners,” he added.

According to prisoners rights group Addameer, Israel was detaining some 7,000 Palestinian prisoners as of May.
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