A group of about 80 Palestinian prisoners today ended their 63-day-long hunger strike after reaching a deal with Israeli prison authorities, a Palestinian official said.
The development comes against the backdrop of a broad Israeli ground operation in the West Bank in search of three Israeli teens who went missing in the Palestinian territory nearly two weeks ago. There have also been near-daily rocket attacks from Gaza, prompting Israeli airstrikes in retaliation.
Earlier today, a rocket fired by Palestinian militants toward Israel exploded in the northern Gaza Strip, killing a 3-year-old Palestinian girl and wounding three other people, a medical official said.
Palestinian health official Ashraf al-Kidra said it was not clear whether the rocket was misfired, or whether an Israeli rocket-defense system intercepted it and caused it to explode over the Palestinian territory.
Since 2012, Palestinian prisoners have staged a series of hunger strikes, sometimes as individuals and sometimes in larger groups to protest “administrative detention,” a policy that can keep some prisoners in custody for months without charges.
Israel has defended the practice as a necessary tool to stop militant activity, including attacks.
The latest hunger strike, involving about 80 prisoners, was launched April 24. It ended Wednesday after the deal was struck with Israel Prisons Authority, said Minister of Prisoner Affairs Shawqi Al-Aissa. He would not elaborate on the agreement.
About 5,000 Palestinians are imprisoned in Israel for offenses ranging from rock throwing to deadly militant attacks. Of those, some 190 are administrative detainees.
The three Israeli teens Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, a 16-year-old with dual Israeli-American citizenship disappeared on June 12 in the West Bank.
Since then, the territory has seen a spike in violence.
Israel has accused the militant Palestinian Hamas group, which controls Gaza, of being behind the abduction. Hamas has praised the kidnapping, but has not taken responsibility for it.