Prisoners Review Israel Offer to End Strike

Israel’s prison administration has agreed to meet several demands made by Palestinian hunger-strikers, including allowing them to receive visitors and make phone calls, an official said Friday.

Palestinian Authority prisoners minister Issa Qaraqe said a committee formed by the Israeli Prison Service decided to grant detainees one phone call per month, and allow them to spend 100 more shekels on personal items.

Among several outstanding issues is visits for Gaza Strip detainees, he said. The committee has postponed its response for two weeks to make arrangements with the army and Red Cross.

Prison officials will also form a committee to meet monthly and discuss four names at a time of prisoners who are in solitary confinement. They will review the files and determine if the punishment is necessary.

Another outstanding issue is education. The prison service is awaiting the response of the High Court, which is reviewing a petition from a number of human rights organizations, he said.

Qaraqe produced a list of what he said was offered by the committee:

— Increase the cantina to 400 shekels instead of 300
— Allow three satellite channels back which are BBC2, Abu Dhabi, and Rotana Cinema
— Allow photos with family once every five years instead of once in a lifetime
— Allow brothers or fathers and sons to be placed inside one prison
— Allow family visits without fences for humanitarian cases
— Allow any former prisoner to visit
— Improve the cantina and provide missing items including fruits and vegetables
— Form a committee to review current prices
— Allow taking photos of the prisoners once every year
— Form a committee to study why certain people in the West Bank are prohibited from visiting
— Transfer sick prisoners by ambulance instead of military vehicles
— Accept recommendations by doctors instead of non-medical personnel

Qaraqe said leaders of the hunger strike are currently discussing the offer. Representatives of the committee met with detainees at Israel’s Hadarim and Shata jails, he said.

Presidential advisor Nimir Hammad, meanwhile, told Ma’an that the Palestinian leadership was holding communications with several countries including the United States about the hunger strike.

Thousands of Palestinians are on hunger strike in Israeli jails, and several are at risk of death. They are protesting detention without trial, restrictive visiting rights and limited access to educational materials.

Two of them have refused food since Feb. 29, and doctors warn they face imminent risk of death. They are among over 300 detainees held in administrative detention without charge or trial.

Human Rights Watch on Wednesday called on Israel to "immediately charge or release people jailed without charge or trial under so-called administrative detention."

Earlier this year, Israel struck deals with two administrative detainees — Khader Adnan and Hana Shalabi — who went on lengthy hunger strikes demanding to be charged with a crime or released.

The prisoners rights group Addameer says around 2,000 prisoners have joined the mass hunger strike, which was launched on April 17, Palestinian Prisoners Day.

(Ma’an)

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