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Report: Palestinian prisoners reach deal to end historic hunger strike

on 33 Comments
A protest in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners outside Ofer prison.
(Photo: Anne Paq/Activestills)

UPDATE: Ma’an reports that Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahla have not yet decided whether to end their strike, which could impact the deal:

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.

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

Another group of prisoners held in administrative detention launched an earlier strike in protest at their detention without charge, including Bilal Diab, 27, and Thaer Halahla, 33, who have gone for 77 days without food.

Their lawyer Jamil Khatib told Ma’an that Diab and Halahla were informed of the deal earlier Monday. They were told the agreement includes their release at the end of their detention term but both refused to stop their strike unless they were immediately released, Khatib said.

On Monday evening, a relative of Halahla said the long-term hunger-strikers were still deciding on next steps. Prisoners society lawyer Jawad Bulous is heading to the prison hospitals to discuss the deal with hunger-strikers, minister Issa Qaraqe told reporters.

Original Post

The AP reports:

Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners agreed Monday to end a weekslong hunger strike after winning concessions from Israel to improve their conditions, the two sides announced.

The deal ended a strike in which prisoners had gone without food for up to 77 days, leaving several prisoners in life-threatening condition. It was the longest strike ever staged by Palestinians in Israeli custody. . .

Among their demands: permission to receive family visits from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, an end to solitary confinement and a halt to an Israeli policy of “administrative detention,” under which suspected militants are held for months, and sometimes years, without being charged. Israel has defended the policy as a necessary security measure.

According to a Palestinian negotiator, Israel agreed to allow prisoners from both the West Bank and Gaza to receive family visits. The visits from Gaza were halted in 2006 after Hamas-linked militants in Gaza captured an Israeli soldier. After the soldier was released in a prisoner swap last October, the Palestinians said the ban should be lifted.

He said Israel also agreed to halt its punitive policy of placing prisoners in solitary confinement, would allow prisoners to make phone calls to relatives and permit prisoners to pursue academic studies.

He spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to talk to the media.
There was no word on any change to the administrative detentions.
The Shin Bet said in return, the prisoners pledged “to absolutely stop terror activity from inside Israeli jails.” It also said militant group’s commanders outside the jails made a commitment “to prevent terror activity.” It did not elaborate.

Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is Executive Editor of

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33 Responses

  1. tod on May 14, 2012, 1:00 pm

    The BBC piece doesn’t mention the two prisoners that reached 75(?) days on hunger strike, but does mention “Many of the 4,500 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel are suspected of being members of militant groups.”. Ain’t freedom of the press great?

  2. mmm245 on May 14, 2012, 1:01 pm

    Adam– you know better than to post media/news reports from the AP/Al Jazeera etc. Til now the Central Committee for the Hunger Strikes inside the jails has not published their statement. Reports are that Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh will continue their strike since IPS refused to release them immediately.

    You have swallowed the media spin, and are spreading rumors on behalf of the occupation and Abbas. Shame.

    • adamhorowitz on May 14, 2012, 1:11 pm

      The deal was confirmed by representatives of Addameer on a conference call earlier today, but of course we’ll update if the story changes.

      • annie on May 14, 2012, 3:32 pm

        thanks adam

  3. Denis on May 14, 2012, 1:03 pm

    Whew . . . a respite. Let’s hope these people in severe starvation status are not too far down the road and a full recovery is possible.

    • seafoid on May 14, 2012, 5:00 pm

      Sadly, Denis, Israel is gone so far down the road of settler lunacy that recovery is impossible.

      Your concern for people starving is touching. Maybe now you’ll fight for the inhuman calorie controlled siege of Gaza to be lifted.

  4. Fredblogs on May 14, 2012, 1:18 pm

    “prisoners pledged ‘to absolutely stop terror activity from inside Israeli jails.'”

    Yeah, that’s going to happen. So 2 months from now, when they catch these prisoners plotting terrorist attacks through the lack of solitary confinement and ordering terrorist attacks through their family visits, then what? Does the deal fall apart and we’re back to hunger strikes? Or does the deal include the revocation of privileges for those activities?

    • Carllarc on May 14, 2012, 5:16 pm

      then they can be starved to death.

    • Pamela Olson on May 14, 2012, 7:50 pm

      What’s going to happen if Israel steals Palestinian land and deliberately shoots non-violent protestors, sometimes maiming or killing them? What’s going to happen if it turns out Israel shot out the eyes of hundreds of children during the second Intifada? What’s going to happen if the route of the Israeli Wall steals vast areas of farmland? What’s going to happen if the “humanitarian corridors” through the Wall turn out to be a farce, a slow method of strangulation, theft, and ultimately, ethnic cleansing? What’s going to happen if Israel builds a psychotic Wall right up against people’s houses, through their neighborhoods, to make it impossible for people to see the sunset or build a house on their own land for their children or go to their apricot orchards for picnics? What’s going to happen if Israel kidnaps hundreds of Palestinians, taking them away from their lives and loved ones for hours, days, years, with no charge or trial, no legal recourse, and treats them worse than animals?

      Oh wait… all of that already happened.

    • Xpat on May 14, 2012, 10:18 pm

      Are you also keeping tabs on Israeli terrorism of Palestinians? Taxi reported that Israeli warplanes routinely violate Lebanese airspace and fly aggressively around Lebanon; the ongoing Occupation is a machine of violence and so on and so forth.

      does the deal include the revocation of privileges

      This isn’t Israel doling out prison privileges. This is Netanyahu capitulating to the Palestinian moral high ground because he is terrified of a Palestinian hunger striker dying. Netanyahu is convinced that this is a good deal. This is an Israeli declaration of faith in Hamas and all the other Palestinian factions. Israel sat down with Hamas, negotiated a deal and signed it.

      Haaretz is reporting that today, Netanyahu returned 100 Palestinian bodies that were being held as bargaining chips in Israel.
      Does anybody know how many more bodies of Palestinian militants Israel is holding on to?

    • Sumud on May 15, 2012, 8:30 am

      So 2 months from now, when they catch these prisoners plotting terrorist attacks…

      Fredblogs what is the most recent “terrorist attack” Israel suffered?

      • Fredblogs on May 16, 2012, 5:41 pm

        Did you mean in person?
        May 10th, 2012.

        Or long distance? In which case May 15, 2012.

        Thank God neither of these attacks were successful at killing or injuring people, either because they were thwarted by the border police (May 10 attack) or because they missed (May 15th attack).

      • Sumud on May 17, 2012, 6:04 am

        Possessing a bomb is not a terrorist attack (May 10). Palestinians have the right to militant self-defence and that includes possessing and using bombs. Maybe you don’t like that – “tough titties” to you.

        As for the Qassam on May 15th – that would be a maybe. Again – Palestinians have the right to militant self defence.

        Please tell me: do you consider the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising as a terrorist attack?

      • Fredblogs on May 17, 2012, 1:30 pm

        Oh, please. Trying to sneak a bomb across a border and getting caught is a thwarted terrorist attack. What do you think they were sneaking the bomb across for, shits and giggles? As for self-defense, firing a missile at civilians is terrorism, not self defense.

      • Fredblogs on May 17, 2012, 1:30 pm

        Good to see that Holocaust denial is alive and well on here by way of lame comparisons. The Warsaw uprising didn’t target German civilians. Nor was the Warsaw ghetto blockaded simply to keep out weapons to be used against German civilians.

      • Fredblogs on May 17, 2012, 1:32 pm

        Plus, whether you call it “self-defense” or “terrorism” it is an attack on Israel and justifies Israel’s security precautions.

      • Sumud on May 18, 2012, 2:45 am

        Trying to sneak a bomb across a border and getting caught is a thwarted terrorist attack.

        What border? Tapuah Junction is deep within the occupied West Bank.

        It doesn’t matter what the bombs are for: Palestinians have the legal right to militant self-defence – period. Until they attack soldiers or civilians it is not an attack at all – period.

        Again, you might not like it but too bad for you. Israelis who think they deserve to be able to occupy and oppress a people for decades after decade with no consequences or repercussions are just a little bit dense…

      • Sumud on May 18, 2012, 2:47 am

        Good to see that Holocaust denial is alive and well on here by way of lame comparisons.

        How about you just answer my question and stop deflecting with nonsense claims about holocaust denial?

        Please tell me: do you consider the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising as a terrorist attack?

        I have more to say on this but answer my question first pls.

  5. American on May 14, 2012, 1:40 pm

    ”and a halt to an Israeli policy of “administrative detention,” under which suspected militants are held for months, and sometimes years, without being charged. Israel has defended the policy as a necessary security measure.”

    How convenient it would be if we could put Israel firsters and Israel under indefinite ”administration detention” without charge as necessary for US and ME/world security.
    Since the US has adopted or at least used Israeli practices as the example to pattern ours on I wonder if we will end up like the Israelis….to the point we consider all other-others as suspect and enemies including the Israelis themselves. I have thought about what all this could culminate in when looking at the European rise of right wing ethnic nationalist/seperatist the uber zios are in bed with. Both parties to that believe they are superior to other ethnics..the Ayrans believe they superior to non Aryans which includes the Jews, and the Zios believe that Jews are superior to Aryans…so even if they suceeded in this joint venture of reordering their countries or the world they would still have one final battle–getting rid of each other.

  6. Sherri Munnerlyn on May 14, 2012, 3:02 pm

    So, we do not know yet how this effects those under administrative detention or whether they will all accept this agreement, to include Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh. It does not appear Israel is agreeing to give up this unlawful disgusting practice of these administrative detentions, that violates the Fourth Geneva Convention, and are war crimes. That is appalling. If they do not stop these practices, I expect the era of Hunger Strikes has only just begun. Every new detainee just starts another hunger strike, and we have 24/7 discussion of hunger strikes against Israeli Apartheid and war crimes that the administrative detentions are into Infinity or beyond or until the Occupation ends.

    And here is another thought I find myself having, if Israel can just grab Palestinians and detain them indiscriminately and for however long they desire, which is the message being sent by this agreement, why should’nt Palestinians be able to just grab Israeli’s in the same way? This agreement kind of sends the message that should be OK, kind of like a green light for that activity.

    Israel= Disgusting, that seems to be my overriding thought of the day. I am just getting disgusted, over and over, we have Israeli officials spitting in the mouths of Israeli protesters and threatening to rape them, an agreement that allows war crimes that these administrative detentions are to continue, no concern by practically anyone in Israel about any of the human rights abuses happening and little reporting of the Occupation and its abuses by MSM there.

    It is really increasingly hard for me to see how anyone can stand to live in Israel, and why the refugees would even want to return there. They teach their children to kill from the time they are babies in their mother’s arms, as we see fom the images of settler mothers holding their babies and urging their children to throw stones at passing Palestinians. Go on to the Knesset website and see how everyone flouts their military experience, if they have none they have to explain. It is just disgusting, what Israel is becoming.

  7. OlegR on May 14, 2012, 3:45 pm

    / longest strike ever staged /

    • Daniel Rich on May 14, 2012, 8:19 pm

      @ OlegR,

      side note: Is a rapist in your eyes just a staged vertical voluntary semen dispenser?

    • OlegR on May 14, 2012, 5:45 pm

      A good ending all in all.
      Nobody died no new Intifada started.
      The Shin Bet will exercise more caution with administrative detention which
      is a problematic tool to say the least.

  8. radii on May 14, 2012, 5:31 pm

    non-violence works – I hope various Palestinian factions can use self-discipline in a sustained way and only respond with weapons and violence when overtly and publicly attacked … non-violence puts witnesses squarely on the side of those being brutalized and the world is witness to israel’s endless and ongoing brutality and the world is weary of it and if Palestinians continue to focus on generating more witnesses and maintaining non-violence the apartheid regime of israel will go the way of the apartheid regime of South Africa

  9. MHughes976 on May 14, 2012, 5:47 pm

    The argument that we cannot take risks in the pursuit of security, or must load all the risks and all the dangers on to the other side to the utmost that we are able, certainly cuts both ways, or all ways – which is why Hobbes argues that the only real solution is to find a way to end the conflict from which the security threat arises. I think you’re right, Sherri, that militarism is self-destructive in the end. You and several Bible passages.
    Mind you I think people are flaunting their military experience rather than flouting it. It’s human rights that get flouted.

  10. Blake on May 14, 2012, 6:20 pm

    Urgent: Addameer Visits Bilal Diab, Hassan Safadi and Omar Abu Shalal in Ramleh Prison Medical Clinic Today

    Despite reports, prisoners have NOT released statement calling end to hunger strikes

  11. Blake on May 14, 2012, 6:33 pm

    Scene in Ramallah following news of supposed end to prisoners hunger strike

    As conflicting reports emerged about the purported deal, the father of administrative detainee Thaer Halahleh – who has been on hunger strike for 77 days – gave a short speech stating his son and seven other long-term hunger strikers will remain on strike “until freedom or martyrdom.”

  12. Blake on May 14, 2012, 6:37 pm

    Hunger-striking detainees sign deal with prison authority

  13. Blake on May 14, 2012, 6:40 pm

    #ThaerHalahleh’s family spoke to me now 1:30am. They said Thaer will be released on June 5th after Israel promising not to renew detention.

    BREAKING: #ThaerHalahleh’s father just called me & told me Thaer has agreed to end his hunger strike on the morning of 15/5 Tears #PalHunger!/LinahAlsaafin

  14. Blake on May 14, 2012, 7:12 pm

    After 77 days, Thaer Halahleh to end hunger strike as Israel agrees to release, father tells EI blogger:

  15. eGuard on May 14, 2012, 7:31 pm

    Applause for Peter Beinart. Where would we be without him?

  16. Daniel Rich on May 14, 2012, 8:13 pm

    The human body’s magnificent in many ways. It can survive being exposed to heat and cold by shutting down or giving up on certain less vital parts [like fingers/hands/toes/feet/ears/lips]. In case of a hunger strike the devastation is far more severe, because in its attempt to protect the most vital organs that ensure life itself, it starts to digest its own muscles. Needless to say, they’ll never come back, thus even if these hunger strikers are set free, their lives will never be the same [those who’ve been on a hunger strike beyond 6o days].

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