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Palestinian prisoners threaten new hunger strike

Palestinian prisoners in Israel are threatening to relaunch a hunger strike, a Palestinian official said yesterday, blaming Israel for reneging on a deal that ended a recent one.

RAMALLAH // Palestinian prisoners in Israel are threatening to relaunch a hunger strike, a Palestinian official said yesterday, blaming Israel for reneging on a deal that ended a recent one.

"There are still provocations in the prisons, and the prisoners are threatening to resume the strike", Palestinian prisoners minister Issa Qaraqaa said at a press conference in Ramallah.

Some 1,550 Palestinians jailed in Israel ended a hunger strike on May 14 in exchange for a package of measures which would allow visits from relatives in Gaza, and the transfer of detainees out of solitary confinement.

Israel also said it would not extend administrative detention orders, unless new evidence emerged.

In return, prisoner leaders committed to not engage in militant activity inside jail and to refrain from future hunger strikes.

Administrative detention is a procedure that allows suspects to be held without charge for renewable periods of up to six months.

But Mr Qaraqaa said Israel was not keeping its end of the deal.

"Israel has begun to violate the deal it signed with the prisoners," Mr Qaraqaa charged.

He also said he doubted Israel would allow the Gaza visits it had committed to.

An Israeli defence official who wished to remain unnamed rejected Mr Qaraqaa's claims.

Regarding the visits from Gaza, the official said that Israel was working towards enabling visits, but it was a process that "would take some time" as it "involves many different bodies."