Israel to stop administrative detention

2012-05-15 14:04

Ramallah – Palestinian prisoners held in Israel's prisons without charge will be freed at the end of their current period of detention - unless fresh evidence emerged against them, a spokesperson for the country's security agency said on Monday.

"All administrative detainees are ending their hunger strike," she said. "All administrative detainees will be released at the end of their current detention periods, unless further evidence will be presented on their cases."

This after Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike agreed with Israel on Monday to end their fast in return for improved conditions.

Most of the 1 550 prisoners had stopped eating for up to four weeks to demand better conditions, while another six prisoners had been refusing food for between 53 and 76 days in protest at being held in administrative detention.

The procedure allows suspects to be held without charge for renewable periods of up to six months.

Israel's Shin Bet internal security agency said prisoners' leaders had signed a commitment to "totally cease terror activity" from inside the prisons, while Israel agreed to return those in solitary confinement to the general population and permit family visits from both the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

Victory for human dignity

In a separate but related development, Israel also agreed to hand over to the Palestinian Authority the remains of 100 militants killed in anti-Israeli attacks.

"As a gesture to president Abbas, Israel will return to the Palestinian Authority bodies of 100 terrorists who were killed by perpetrating attacks," Ofir Gendelman, a Netanyahu spokesperson, said on his Twitter account.

News of the deal to end the strike was confirmed by Gaza's Hamas rulers.

Hamas hailed a "victory for human dignity", which was welcomed in the Gaza Strip by tens of thousands of supporter

The hunger strike has garnered widespread support among Palestinians, with hundreds turning out daily to join marches and sit-in protests.

Although prisoners have staged hunger strikes in the past, the practice of refusing food has becoming an increasingly popular form of protest since a landmark protest by a prisoner who went 66 days without eating over his being held without charge.

Khader Adnan only agreed to end his strike after reaching a deal with Israel ensuring he would be released at the end of his four-month term, putting the international spotlight on the issue of administrative detention.

There are 4 699 Palestinians being held in Israeli jails, of whom 319 are in administrative detention, according to Prisoners Club figures.