Jailed Palestinians to End Hunger Strikes in Israel (WSJ) WALL STREET JOURNAL) By JOSHUA MITNICK TEL AVIV, ISRAEL 05/15/12)
WALL STREET JOURNAL
WALL STREET JOURNAL Articles-Index-Top
TEL AVIV—Israel and Palestinian prisoner leaders sealed an Egyptian-
brokered deal to end a weekslong hunger strike by about 2,000
imprisoned Palestinians, which had stirred local and international
concern about a flare-up of unrest if one of the prisoners were to
In return for the end to the hunger strike, Israel agreed to improve
the conditions of the Palestinians´ imprisonment and release a
handful of prisoners held without charges in "administrative
detention" at the end of their current terms, said Palestinian
The prisoners, held at various jails around the country, committed to
cease all "terrorist" activity from within the prison walls in return
for Israel easing conditions of their incarceration. That activity
includes aiding in the recruitment and financing of militant groups,
It was the second time in about two months that Israel bowed to
pressure from a hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners.
The deal also was the latest instance in which Egypt intervened to
mediate between Israelis and Palestinians. At the end of 2011, Egypt
helped secure the release of Sgt. Gilad Shalit. The Egyptian
mediation—which was handled by its intelligence branch—comes as a
vote for a new Egyptian president has increased uncertainty about the
future of Israel-Egypt ties and their 33-year-old peace pact.
The Palestinians reached out to Egypt because a large portion of the
hunger-striking prisoners are loyal to Hamas, the Islamic militant
group that controls the Gaza Strip and doesn´t have relations with
"This is the new Egypt playing a constructive role, just as they
played with Gilad Shalit, and that´s important to note," said Yossi
Alpher, a former Israeli security official and the editor of
Bitterlemons.org, an online Israeli-Palestinian forum.
Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the international community
were concerned about several Palestinians who were in critical
condition after fasting for about 10 weeks. This month, Robert Serry,
the United Nations´ Mideast envoy, urged the sides to reach an
agreement "before it is too late."
Israel feared Tuesday´s Palestinian observance of the "Naqba"—or
catastrophe—marking the uprooting of Palestinians from their homes
during the 1948 war that followed Israel´s declaration of
independence, could fan protests.
The Palestinians won an Israeli commitment to end solitary
confinement for some prisoners and to allow Gazan residents visit
relatives inside Israeli jails.
Israel also reinstated access to higher education for prisoners after
canceling the privilege in retaliation for Sgt. Shalit´s
The strike highlighted Israel´s use of "administrative detention,´´ a
decades-old practice that allows the military to hold prisoners
considered security threats without bringing formal charges, and to
keep extending their incarceration period.
Israeli officials said they feared the deaths of Thaer Halahleh and
Bilal Diab, two Palestinian activists who had fasted for 77 days to
protest administrative detention. At the beginning of March, Israel
agreed to release Khader Adnan, an Islamic Jihad activist, at the end
of his term.
A spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the
deal was meant as a gesture to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to
renew peace talks. Mr. Netanyahu over the weekend sent a letter to
Mr. Abbas urging the immediate resumption of negotiations.
(Copyright © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.) 05/15/12)
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY