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Egypt brokers deal to end hunger strike
Published Monday 14/05/2012 (updated) 14/05/2012 19:46
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Around 2,000 prisoners are taking part in a hunger strike.
GAZA CITY (Reuters) -- Egypt has brokered a deal aimed at ending a hunger strike of some 1,600 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, a Palestinian source close to the negotiations said on Monday.

"Egypt has concluded a deal to resolve the prisoner crisis that included Israel's acceptance of prisoners' demands in exchange for ending the hunger strike," said the source, who is close to the talks in Cairo.

The Palestinian Authority minister of prisoners confirmed that Egyptian officials and the PA were waiting for a response from detainees.

"We are waiting for the strikers' response on what was agreed on. The leaders of the strike will meet today in Ashkelon prison to discuss the issue and announce their final position, which will determine the future of the strike," Issa Qaraqe said.

The agreement brokered by Egypt included ending solitary confinement, not renewing administrative detention for detainees held without trial, releasing all prisoners who have finished their sentence and allowing family visits and phone calls, the PA minister added.

One in three of the 4,800 Palestinians held in Israeli jails began refusing food on April 17 in a protest against detention without trial and to demand improved conditions such as an increase in family visits and ending solitary confinement.

Bilal Diab, 27, and Thaer Halahla, 33, have gone for 77 days without food.

Egyptian mediators have been meeting Palestinian officials negotiating on behalf of the hunger strikers, and the source close to negotiations said an official announcement of the deal would be made after prisoners and Israeli authorities work out details on putting the accord into motion.

Senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad told Ma'an on Sunday that a deal between Israeli officials and a committee consisting of high profile prisoners from different Palestinian political factions was in its final stages.

Asked about news of the deal, an Israeli Prisons Service spokeswoman said: "The strike is still on ... we are not commenting on the process."

On Monday, thousands of people held a rally in Gaza in support of the hunger strikers. "We will give our souls and blood to redeem the prisoners," the crowd chanted.

Ma'an staff contributed to this report
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1 ) Julie / USA
14/05/2012 11:18
very concerned about the latest on the medical status of Thaer and Bilal. has izrahell transferred them to a hospital where they can receive PROPER critical care and monitoring YET???? it's a CRIME each minute they don't!!! and why haven't we heard one word about their condition for over 24 hours? i don't trust izrael, i sure as hell hope izrahell hasn't been waiting to announce bad news about either of them until after this deal, the FULL implementation of which has yet to be seen

2 ) @ Julie-1 / USA too
14/05/2012 17:36
You need to see a bigger picture, since
"23 people were killed across Syria on Sunday as security forces raided protest hubs and clashed with armed rebels, and a double suicide bombing in the Syrian capital Damascus killed 55 people and wounded nearly 400",
the day before, but
- you only express concern for people, like Thaer and Bilal, that are starving themselves, and
- you only "israhell, izrael, & israhell", when Israel has NOT killed or wounded one person !!!
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