Palestinian hunger strikers end fast after compromise on family visits

(JTA) – Hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli prisons ended an extended hunger strike after reaching a compromise on receiving more family visits.

The hunger strike ended after 40 days, on Saturday, which was also the first day of the month-long Ramadan holiday, where religious Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset each day.

The end to the hunger strike reportedly came after Israel reached a deal with the Palestinian Authority and the Red Cross for prisoners to receive a second family visit each per month.

More than 800 prisoners ended their hunger strike on Saturday. At its highest point about 1,500 prisoners were refusing food. Some 18 prisoners were in the hospital when the strike ended. The hunger striking prisoners were taking only a mixture of water and salt for sustenance.

The hunger strike was launched  in mid-April with an op-ed in The New York Times by convicted Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti, who is serving multiple life sentences for the murder of five Jewish Israelis and who is said to be in line as a successor to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ leadership. Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners joined the action calling for more favorable prison conditions.

Among the demands were: a public pay phone for prisoner use; access to 20 television channels; giving Gaza prisoners the same visitation rights as other prisoners and increasing visitation rights for all; allowing books, magazines and newspapers to enter the prison without limitation; changing and increasing the products available at the prison store and increasing the amount of money a prisoner’s family can deposit for him; housing only four prisoners per cell; allowing prisoners to prepare their own food, and ending solitary confinement.

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