Following mediation by Egypt and Jordan, Israel has agreed to end solitary confinement for all Palestinian prisoners and allow around 400 prisoners from Gaza to receive family visits in an agreement reached today.
The agreement also covered discussions on improvements in prison conditions, such as access to televisions and telephone calls.
In return, Palestinian prisoners’ leaders reportedly have signed a commitment to “completely halt terrorist activity inside Israeli prisons,” including recruitment, practical support, funding and co-ordination of operations.
The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry, has welcomed the agreement reached to end the hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody.
Mr. Serry “urges all involved to implement the agreement in good faith and promptly,” according to a statement issued today in Jerusalem.
On April this year, more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners began an open-ended hunger strike on Palestinian Prisoners Day. This hunger strike is a protest against unjust arrest procedures, arbitrary detention and bad prison conditions.
For weeks now, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other senior UN officials have been stressing the importance of averting any further deterioration in the condition of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody who are on hunger strike.
On February this year, a Palestinian detainee in Israel waged a hunger strike for almost two months, trying to draw attention to Israel’s military justice system and its treatment of detainees.
Khader Adnan, 33, has refused food for 55 days in protest at his imprisonment without charge by Israel.
Adnan’s hunger strike is the longest ever waged by a Palestinian detainee.
In a addition, a Palestinian woman was on a hunger strike for nearly a month to protest at her treatment.
Reports say Hana Shalabi is refusing to eat since she was detained on February 16. She is reportedly being held in solitary confinement.
Ms. Shalabi became the second Palestinian detainee to go on a hunger strike in quick succession.
Shalabi, 30, is reportedly a member of Islamic Jihad, which is committed to Israel’s destruction.
On October 2011, Hamas released Israeli Staff Sergeant Gilad Shalit, who had been held captive since June 2006, in exchange for the release of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners by Israel. The first 477 of those prisoners were released yesterday.
Israel captured East Jerusalem along with the West Bank and Gaza in the Six-Day War in 1967, but annexed the city as its united capital in a move not recognized by the international community. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as capital of their future State.
Talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians have been stalled since late September 2010 following Israel’s refusal to extend a 10-month freeze on settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory.