Two jailed Palestinians end hunger strike: prison official

Two Palestinians held in Israeli custody without trial have ended their hunger strike but are still being treated in civilian hospitals, an Israeli prison official said on Thursday.

Jaafar Ezzeddine and Tariq Qaadan had "started eating yesterday," Israel Prisons Service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman told AFP.

Two other prisoners "Samer Issawi and Ayman Sharawna are both continuing their hunger strike," she said, adding they were now the only inmates still refusing food.

All four, who stopped eating several months ago but have been taking fluids and vitamins, are currently in hospital, she said.

A Palestinian prisoner support group said that Ezzedine and Qaadan would decide whether to renew their protest action after a hearing on their cases next week.

"Inmates Jaafar Ezzeddine and Tariq Qaadan have decided to suspend their open-ended hunger strike until March 6, when the Ofer military court will hold a hearing on their administrative detention," said the Palestinian Prisoners' Club.

"The final decision to suspend or renew the (hunger) strike will be made based on the ruling of the court that day," it said in a statement.

"The military prosecution has revealed that it will not seek renewal of their administrative detention."

Under what Israel calls "administrative detention" suspects can be imprisoned without trial by order of a military court. Such orders can be renewed indefinitely for up to six months at a time.

Prisoner rights group Addameer says Qaadan and Ezzedine were arrested on November 22 and put under administrative detention orders to run until May 21.

Both began refusing food on November 28 in protest.

Issawi and Sharawna were long-term security prisoners who were released by Israel under a prisoner swap deal in October 2011, then re-arrested last year following allegations they violated the terms of the agreement.

Israel has ordered that they serve out the remainder of their original sentences, prompting Sharawna to start refusing food on July 1 followed by Issawi who stopped eating on August 1.

On Saturday imprisoned militant Arafat Jaradat died suddenly in his Israeli cell, prompting Palestinian allegations of torture and several days of violent protest in the occupied West bank.

On Tuesday militants from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed offshoot of the Fatah movement of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, fired a rocket from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel in reprisal for the death of Jaradat, whom they said was one of their men.

A United Nations official called on Wednesday for an international probe into Jaradat's death.

"The death of a prisoner during interrogation is always a cause for concern," UN Special Rapporteur for human rights in the Palestinian territories, Richard Falk said in a statement.

"In this case, when Israel has shown a pattern and practice of prisoner abuse, the need for outside, credible investigation is more urgent than ever," Falk said. "The best approach might be the creation of an international forensic team under the auspices of the UN Human Rights Council."

Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch told Israel's parliament on Wednesday in response to lawmakers' questions that the country's national forensic institute would make a statement about the autopsy next week.

"There is no imposition of confidentiality and all material will be passed to the investigating judge," the Knesset website quoted him as saying. "It may that an international body will also be copied in order to dispel the rumours which are being circulated."