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Egypt Brokers Palestinian Prisoners Deal

Published: 21/05/2012 04:18:50 PM GMT
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GAZA CITY - Egypt has reportedly brokered a deal to resolve the crisis of thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, who have been on hunger strike in protest at their detention without charge. Egypt has concluded a (more)

GAZA CITY - Egypt has reportedly brokered a deal to resolve the crisis of thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, who have been on hunger strike in protest at their detention without charge."Egypt has concluded a deal to resolve the prisoner crisis that included Israel's acceptance of prisoners' demands in exchange for ending the hunger strike," a Palestinian source close to the talks in Cairo told Reuters on Monday, May 14.

Some 1,550 Palestinian prisoners are currently on hunger strike, including two detainees who on Monday entered their 76th day without food.

- Nakba Eyewitness

- Palestinian "Return Key" Memorial

The mass hunger strike was launched by Palestinian prisoners in protest at being held without charge in administrative detention.

The procedure allows the detention of an individual without charge for periods of up to six months, which can be renewed indefinitely.

Some detainees have spent years in jail under such orders.

Both of the two longest-term hunger strikers, Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahla, who have now refused food for 76 days, are protesting their administrative detention orders.

More than 1,550 Palestinians serving time in Israeli jails began refusing food last month in a protest against detention without trial and to demand improved conditions such as an increase in family visits and ending solitary confinement.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned on Sunday of a “national disaster” if any of the 1,550 Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails were to die.

“The situation of the prisoners is extremely dangerous,” Abbas told a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization's executive committee.

“Some of them face real harm, and that would be a national disaster that no one can tolerate. I hope and pray to God that no one gets hurt because it would be a major disaster.”

International rights groups and governments said they were concerned that prisoners could die if they continued to refuse food.

“These prisoners have a right to justice, and we are talking about the conditions of detention and the prison conditions that Israel is trying to ignore,” Abbas said.

Prisoners' Decision

Sources close to Cairo talks confirmed that the final decision in the deal would be left to Palestinian prisoners themselves.

"The prisoners are looking at the deal that was agreed in Cairo, only the prisoners can decide," a Palestinian source close to the Egyptian-brokered negotiations with Israel, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Monday.

"It's the leaders of the prisoners who have the key, to say yes or no."

Late on Sunday, a source confirmed to AFP that a deal regarding their demands had been hammered out in Cairo.

"A deal on the question of the prisoners was agreed in Cairo, but it has to be approved by the detainees," the source said, indicating the prison administration would meet with the detainees' representatives on Monday "to present them with the accord."There are nearly 9,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

The deal comes as Palestinians prepare to mark the 64th memory of Nakba, which marks the creation of Israel on the rubble of Palestine.

Each year on May 15, Palestinians mourn the loss of Palestine and creation of Israel in 1948.

On April 18, 1948, Palestinian Tiberius was captured by Menachem Begin's Irgun group, putting its 5,500 Palestinian residents in flight. On April 22, Haifa fell to the Zionist mobs and 70,000 Palestinians fled.

On April 25, Irgun began bombarding civilian sectors of the Palestinian city of Jaffa - the largest city in Palestine at that time, terrifying the 750,000 inhabitants into panicky flight.

On May 14, the day before the creation of Israel, Jaffa completely surrendered to the much better-equipped Zionist gangs and only about 4,500 of its population remained.

Reproduced with permission from