Rearrested Shalit Deal Prisoners Announce Hunger Strike

Prisoners who were rearrested this year after being released in the 2011 Shalit deal announced they would go on hunger strike Tuesday to pressure the Palestinian delegation in Cairo to negotiate with Israel for their release, a rights group said.

The Ramallah-based Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said Monday that the strike would be observed by 63 prisoners who were among a group of 1,027 freed by Israel under the terms of a 2011 swap arrangement.

PPS head Qaddura Fares echoed the prisoners’ demands in a statement, calling on the delegation to “hold onto the principle of releasing these prisoners especially since they have begun considering an open hunger strike in protest of their rearrest.”

The strike is timed to coincide with the resumption of indirect truce talks in Cairo aimed at cementing the terms of a ceasefire deal which ended 50 days of fighting in and around Gaza, and which went into effect on Aug. 26.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators agreed to resume talks within a month of that date to discuss several tough issues, including the possibility of a new swap arrangement.

The talks are not expected to last more than one day as the Jewish New Year holiday begins at sundown on Wednesday, and it was not clear how long the planned hunger strike would last.

Bassem al-Salhi, a member of the Palestinian negotiating team, told AFP Tuesday’s meeting would “allow a timetable to be put in place for (talks which would take place) after Eid al-Adha,” the Muslim feast of sacrifice which this year falls on the first weekend of October.

In Cairo, the two teams are expected to discuss Gaza’s reconstruction, a Palestinian demand for a port and an airport and Israel’s insistence on militant groups disarming.

More than 7,000 Palestinians are currently being held in Israeli jails.

(Ma’an – www.maannews.net)

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