Palestinian prisoners suspend hunger strike, terms unclear

Photo: Palestinian prisoners suspend hunger strike, terms unclear
 / Arab-Israel Relations

Scores of Palestinians on hunger-strike suspended their protest against detention without charges by Israel on Wednesday, and an Israeli official said there had been no major change of policy, Reuters reported.

Around 120 Palestinians on so-called "administrative detention" began fasting on April 24, and were eventually joined by another 180 inmates. Around 75 required hospitalization, fuelling debate in Israel over a proposed force-feeding law.

Qadoura Fares, a Palestinian official advocating for the prisoners, told Reuters the hunger-strike had been suspended overnight and reasons for the move would be given later.

An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that in response to the protest ending the Prisons Service would not punish the hunger-strikers. Such sanctions could have included fines or reassigning inmates to different prison wings.

The Israeli official said there was no change to the administrative detention policy, under which Palestinians suspected of security offences are jailed without trial to avoid any court proceedings that could expose sensitive intelligence information. The practice has drawn international criticism.

Previous hunger strikes ended with some of the protesting inmates securing release from Israeli detention.

There are at least 5,400 Palestinians in Israeli jails. The number has been growing daily, with the round-up of suspects following the abduction of three Israeli teenagers who vanished after leaving a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank on June 12.

Israel's parliament had been due to vote this week on a bill backed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that would enable force-feeding of Palestinian prisoners on hunger-strike. The vote was postponed as lawmakers debated the scope of the law.

The Israeli Medical Association, which represents most of the country's doctors, has denounced force-feeding as unethical.

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