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Israel says 300 Palestinian inmates end hunger strike, Palestinian Authority denies

AFP , Sunday 30 Apr 2017
Protest
Families of Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli jails demonstrate in Jerusalem's Old City on April 29, 2017 in support of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike. Palestinian officials say some 1,500 prisoners are participating in the hunger strike that began on April 17, with detainees ingesting only water and salt. (Photo: AFP)
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An Israeli minister said Sunday that 300 Palestinians have agreed to end an almost two-week-old hunger strike launched in protest at the conditions of their detention.

However, the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian NGO the Palestinian Prisoners' Club said 1,500 inmates were keeping up their fast in Israeli jails.

Three hundred hunger strikers have "agreed to take food without having obtained" any of their demands, Israel's internal security minister, Gilad Erdan, told army radio.

"Negotiations are out of the question," he said, adding that 920 Palestinian prisoners remained on hunger strike.

But the head of the Palestinian NGO, Qadura Fares, said the prison service is trying to negotiate with some of the prisoners and had moved a number of hunger strikers to a jail in northern Israel for that purpose.

"The Israeli prison service is trying to launch negotiations with groups of prisoners who are on hunger strike about their demands, except for (Palestinian leader) Marwan Barghouti," said Fares.

The hunger strike began on April 17, with those taking part ingesting only water and salt. They have issued demands ranging from better medical care to phone access.

Barghouti, who is very popular among Palestinians, is serving five life sentences over his role in the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising.

Fares said Barghouti was placed in solitary confinement, a claim confirmed by Issa Qaraqe, head of detainees' affairs for the Palestinian Authority, according to Palestinian media.

Erdan also said the prison service planned to set up 400 medical centres inside jails "to avoid as much as possible the transfer of hunger striking detainees to civilian hospitals".

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