Two Palestinians end hunger strike that fuelled protests

Wed Feb 27, 2013 3:27pm EST
 
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By Noah Browning

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Two Palestinian prisoners whose hunger strike stoked clashes in the West Bank have ended their protest after Israel agreed to release them in May, a Palestinian official said on Wednesday.

The men were among four prisoners held without formal charge in an Israeli jail who have refused to eat for between three and six months.

Their worsening state, coupled with the death of another Palestinian in detention on Saturday, fuelled the violence in which at least six Palestinian protesters were shot and badly wounded, less than a month before U.S. President Barack Obama is due to visit the West Bank town of Ramallah and Jerusalem.

"Jaafar Izzedine and Tarek Qaadan have paused their hunger strike," said Qadura Fares, head of an advocacy group for Palestinian prisoners.

He confirmed that Israel had agreed to release them on May 21 and said an Israeli court was expected to ratify the deal early next month.

Israel holds 178 Palestinians as "administrative" detainees - jailed without trial as suspected militants for renewable three to six-month terms based on classified evidence.

An Israeli official with the Prisons Authority confirmed that Izzedine and Qaadan had stopped their fast but did not comment on whether a deal was reached to free them.

Palestinian and Israeli officials are still seeking a deal for the other two prisoners, Samer al-Issawi and Ayman Sharawneh.   Continued...

 
A protester sits as others pray during a demonstration outside Israel's Ofer military prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah February 22, 2013. Israeli forces clashed with Palestinian protesters throughout the occupied West Bank on Friday, capping a week of violence amid a hunger strike by four Palestinians in Israeli jails. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman