Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails end 40-day hunger strike

Protesters wave flags bearing a portrait of Marwan Barghouti during a rally in Ramallah Monday.

Story highlights

  • Prisoners demanded an end to solitary confinement
  • They have been surviving on water and salt

Jerusalem (CNN)Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails ended their hunger strike Saturday after 40 days, officials said.

The hunger strike ended hours before Ramadan following a marathon 20-hour negotiating session, said Issa Qaraqe, head of the Prisoners' Affairs Committee and Qadura Fares, who leads the Palestinian Prisoners' Club.
    The Israel Prison Service also confirmed the end of the strike.
      In exchange for ending the hunger strike, prisoners will be offered a second family visit per month, the Israel Prison Service said.
      Protesters show their support for jailed Palestinians in a rally in Ramallah Monday.
      Nearly 1,600 prisoners began the strike on April 17, which is known as Palestinian Prisoners' Day.
      Of those, 834 continued the hunger strike the entire 40 days, according to the Israel Prison Service. They have been surviving on water and salt.
      Eighteen prisoners were hospitalized during the strike and will return to prison when their medical condition improves, the prison service said.
      Qaraqe had urged Palestinians to support the strike and called on human rights organizations to press Israel about conditions in prisons.
      The hunger strike is a way of "bringing prisoners closer to their basic rights and demands and preventing the occupation from harming the dignity of the Palestinian prisoners," he said in a statement.
      A woman holds the portrait of a Palestinian prisoner during a rally in Ramallah.
      Marwan Barghouti, a high-profile prisoner who enjoys broad support among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, called for the "Freedom and Dignity" strike. Many Palestinians see Barghouti as a potential future leader of the Palestinian Authority, despite his prison sentence.
      Palestinian leaders, including Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and Palestinian Liberation Organization Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi, have backed the strike.
      The hunger strikers' long list of demands included an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention, a policy under which Israel holds prisoners without charge or trial.
        Some 740 Palestinians are held in administrative detention, Qaraqe said. Prisoners also demanded better medical care and extended visits with family.
        This hunger strike is the largest Palestinian prisoners have ever launched, said Ghassan Khatib, a Palestinian politician and former vice president of Birzeit University. Palestinians have often resorted to hunger strikes, mostly to target administrative detentions.