Palestinian prisoners end hunger strike after 40 days

Palestinian prisoners' open-ended hunger strike was suspended on Saturday after an agreement was reached between Israeli Prison Services (IPS) and prisoners' leaders, said prisoners' affairs minister, Issa Qaraqe, and head of Palestine Prisoners' Society Qaddoura Fares.

According to Israeli prison authorities, 1,578 Palestinian prisoners out of the almost 6,500 serving sentences in Israeli prisons were involved in the hunger strike that began 40 days ago.

The full details of the deal have not yet been disclosed.

The strike was called by Marwan Barghouti, the most high-profile Palestinian jailed in Israel, to protest against solitary confinement and an Israeli practice of detention without trial that has been applied to thousands of prisoners since the 1980s.

The resolution of the strike came hours before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Barghouti was negotiating with the Israeli authority on behalf of the prisoners in an attempt to end the strike before Ramadan.

The hunger strike was one of the largest and longest-lasting of its kind since the 1967 Six-Day War, when Israel captured territory in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Many Israelis view the prisoners as terrorists and have little sympathy for their demands.

"They (Israel authorities) realized that detainees are determined to continue their strike until victory or martyrdom and that violence and oppression tools have not weakened them, but, to the contrary, they have increased their will power". In prison since 2002, he has never mounted a defence, saying the court had no jurisdiction over him. On May 7, the Israel's prison authority shared video of what it said was Barghouti eating biscuits in a break from the strike.

Some 843 prisoners are still observing the strike that has wide Palestinian support.

Avi Buskila of Peace Now said in a statement the protest is "against the lack of hope offered to us by the right wing government".

Barghouti has been touted as a possible future successor to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.