In an effort to put an end to a mass hunger strike, Israel’s prison service (IPS) has agreed to lift some restrictions imposed on Palestinian prisoners.
There are currently 1,600 Palestinian prisoners who are refusing food to protest against the conditions in which they are being held. This includes detention without being formally charged and being denied visits from family.
The strike has definitely created a stir that grabbed the attention of the United Nations and European Union, which have openly expressed their concerns. Two of the protestors, Thaer Halahla and Bilal Diab, have now marked their 72nd day without eating.
A spokesman for Addameer, a Palestinian prisoners’ rights organization, has said in an interview that some progress has been made during negotiations between detainees and the Israel Prison Service.
IPS representative, Sivan Weizman, confirmed that a meeting had taken place in Nafha prison, located in Southern Israel. However, Weizman would not release any details about the proposals that were made.
Benyamin Netanyahu’s spokesman, Mark regev, has also spoke on the matter and added that the priority is to put the strike to rest as soon as possible to avoid the possibility of prisoners dying.
Haaretz newspaper and other Israeli media outlets have reported that the IPS has now eased some restrictions and are allowing visits from relatives and access to books and educational material.
The prisoners have received an outpour of support from Palestinians. Activists have took to the streets and occupied the headquarters of the Red Cross and the offices of the European Union to seek their support.
The demonstrations have also took a violent turn when 150 Palestinians clashed with police near Ofer prison near Ramallah. There was an exchange of stones being thrown by demonstrators and police responding with rubber bullets and tear gas.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas also got involved by paying a visit to hunger strike participants in El-Bireh. He released a statement wishing for the issue to be resolved as quickly as possible.