Palestinian Prisoners End Hunger Strike in Israel After 40 Days

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JERUSALEM — Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails ended a hunger strike late on Friday after 40 days, as their health was deteriorating and after, media reports said, the authorities agreed to at least one of the prisoners’ demands.

About 1,000 men had taken part in the strike, and Israeli officials said this past week that nearly every prisoner had needed hospital care, including the leader of the strike, Marwan Barghouti, a Palestinian politician convicted of five murders in the Palestinian uprising that began in 2000.

In a statement on Saturday, Mr. Barghouti confirmed the end of the hunger strike, timed to the beginning of Ramadan, the holy Muslim month of fasting. But he did not specify any agreements with the Israeli authorities. The statement called the strike an “important step towards full respect of the rights of Palestinian prisoners.”

Israeli prison officials could not be immediately reached for comment on Saturday.

The strikers, among 6,500 Palestinians in Israeli prisons, had demanded more family visits, an end to solitary confinement, better health care and greater access to education. Media reports said the Israeli authorities had agreed to a prisoner’s demand for a second monthly family visit.

Israeli officials accused Mr. Barghouti of staging the strike to raise his position in the volatile struggle over leadership among Palestinians. Polls show that Mr. Barghouti, 57, who has been in prison since 2002, is the most popular leader to replace Mahmoud Abbas, 82, president of the Palestinian Authority.

Mr. Abbas met in the past week in Bethlehem with President Trump, and the two reportedly discussed the strike, which has ignited protests in the occupied West Bank over the past month.

The striking prisoners had limited themselves to water and salt, though Israeli officials said that Mr. Barghouti had at least twice violated the strike, eating snacks placed in his cell when he was in solitary confinement. Palestinian officials and his family denied the accusations, saying that the videos allegedly showing Mr. Barghouti eating were faked.