Hundreds of terrorists in Israeli prisons broke their 40-day hunger strike on Saturday morning—just in time for the Ramadan fast—after reaching an agreement with the Israeli Prisons Authority granting them two monthly family visits.
The vast majority of the estimated 6,000 terrorists behind bars in Israeli jails has shown no interest in the strike from the start, seeing as it had been initiated by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and most of the terrorists belong to Hamas. Only 834 out of the 1,500 that did participate stuck by the strike – the rest dropped out. This included the leader of the strike, Marwan Barghouti, who was captured on video secretly snacking on Israeli candy in his cell bathroom.
Although the strike is being presented as a victory, despite the rejection of all but one of the strikers’ demands, it should be noted that even that “concession” did not actually come from Israel. It was the International Committee of the Red Cross that stopped the visits a year ago, because family members were not showing up and the group was running out of funds. Saturday’s concession came not from Israel but from the PA, which agreed to renew funding for the visitation program.
PA leaders on Saturday applauded the prisoners’ “victory,” announcing it was an “important step towards full respect of the rights of Palestinian prisoners.” But, as Arab news outlets pointed out, none of those prisoners’ demands had in reality been met –the right to pursue higher education, improved medical care, an end to solitary confinement, and an end to administrative detention without trial.
Besides the candy bar farce which made Barghouti look foolish, there have been speculations in the Israeli media that elements in the PA have been working to derail the hunger strike in an effort to curb Barghouti’s rising clout as the aging PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s heir apparent.
But the official PA line was best expressed in the statement: “The epic resilience and determination of the hunger strikers and their refusal to end their hunger strike despite the repression and very harsh conditions they endured allowed for their will to prevail over the will of the jailer.”