2 Palestinian prisoners end hunger strike that fueled riots

Prisons Service says prisoners end their protest after Israel agrees to release them in May.

Palestinians rally to free hunger strikers 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohammed Salem)
Palestinians rally to free hunger strikers 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohammed Salem)
Two Palestinian security prisoners whose hunger strike stoked violence in the West Bank have ended their protest after Israel agreed to release them in May, the Prisons Service said on Thursday.
The men were among four prisoners held without formal charge who have refused to eat for between three and six months.
Their worsening state, coupled with the death of a Palestinian rock-thrower in Megiddo Prison on Saturday, fueled the violence in which at least six Palestinians were shot and badly wounded.
“Jaafar Izzedine and Tarek Qaadan have paused their hunger strike,” said Qadura Fares, head of an advocacy group for Palestinian prisoners.
He confirmed that Israel had agreed to release them on May 21 and said an Israeli court was expected to ratify the deal early next month.
Israel holds 178 Palestinians as administrative detainees – jailed without trial as suspected terrorists for renewable three- to sixmonth terms based on classified evidence.
An official with the Prisons Authority confirmed that Izzedine and Qaadan had stopped their fast but did not comment on whether a deal was reached to free them.
Palestinian and Israeli officials are still seeking a deal for the other two prisoners, Samer Issawi and Ayman Sharawne.
They are being treated in Israeli hospitals after months of intermittent hunger strikes against their rearrests after having been freed in the 2011 prisoner swap for IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, and then violating the terms of his release.
“The Israeli side has begun dialogue today to find a solution to this issue, but so far they have not presented an acceptable offer,” the Palestinian Authority minister of prisoners, Issa Qaraqa, told reporters, adding that Issawi and Sharawne had refused an offer to be freed and deported.
At least six Palestinians were wounded this week in clashes with Israeli troops after Arafat Jaradat died in Megiddo Prison on Saturday.
A United Nations rights envoy called on Wednesday for an independent inquiry into Jaradat’s death. UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon appealed for calm and said Israel should either put the Palestinians in its custody on trial, or release them.