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Israel to release Palestinian prisoners: minister

Israel will release a "limited" number of Palestinian prisoners, government minister Yuval Steinitz said on Saturday, a day after the US announced direct peace talks will resume between the two sides. "There will be a limited release of prisoners," Steinitz, the minister in charge of international relations, strategic affairs and intelligence, told public radio without giving numbers. Steinitz did not say when the release would take place, but said it would be "in stages." "There will definitely be a certain gesture here," he added.

Obama's UN pick to seek Security Council seat for Israel

President Barack Obama's nominee for UN envoy Wednesday slammed the global body's "unacceptable bias" against Israel, and pledged to lobby hard to get America's closest Mideast ally a seat on the Security Council. Even as detractors criticize her past statements about Israel, genocide expert and human rights champion Samantha Power enjoys bipartisan support in the US Senate, where broad cooperation this week on executive branch nominees was likely to ease her expected confirmation.

UN expert wants probe of Israeli detention of Palestinians

A controversial UN rights expert called Monday for an international investigation of Israel's treatment of Palestinian prisoners, decrying arbitrary detention, torture and coerced confessions among other alleged abuses. "The treatment of thousands of Palestinians detained or imprisoned by Israel continues to be extremely worrisome," said Richard Falk, the UN's outspoken expert on the rights situation in the Palestinian territories.

Beware the 'birds': Palestinians decry jailhouse informers

Former Palestinian prisoners are speaking out to warn those still held in Israeli jails about a group of undercover informers seeking to trip them up, who are known as "birds." The network apparently stretches far and wide, with these "birds" tasked with wheedling out confessions that lead to convictions through a mixture of charm, camaraderie and favours. Often these Palestinians pose as militants jailed for anti-Israeli attacks. Ahmed Azzam, 30, says his first exposure to the "birds" was after several unsuccessful Israeli attempts at interrogating him.

Rights abuses by Israel prison medics 'endanger lives'

Human rights violations by medics working for Israel's prison service are endangering the lives of both Israeli and Palestinian inmates, especially hunger strikers, a watchdog said on Thursday. Physicians for Human Rights-Israel strongly urged the transfer of responsibility for prisoners' health from the Israel Prisons Service (IPS) to the health ministry in order to ensure detainees' health was put ahead of "security considerations".

UN experts demand immediate end to Israeli settlements

Israel must immediately begin withdrawing its settlers from the Palestinian territories, UN experts told diplomats Monday, even as the new Israeli government appeared set to strengthen the hand of the Jewish settler lobby. Israel must act to "immediately and without preconditions cease the settlement activity and to initiate a process of withdrawal from the settlements", Christine Chanet told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, lamenting a "rampant annexation" of Palestinian territories.

Palestinian hunger-striker freed to Gaza: Palestinians

A Palestinian prisoner who was on long-term hunger strike arrived in Gaza on Sunday evening after inking a deal with Israeli officials, Palestinian officials told AFP. Ayman Sharawna reached a deal under which he was freed from prison but exiled from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip for 10 years. He was met at the Erez border crossing from Israel by a Palestinian ambulance which took him to hospital for examination, Palestinian officials at the border said.

UPDATE 2-Israel mistreats Palestinian children in custody-UNICEF

* UN agency estimates 700 detained each year * Most arrested for throwing stones * Israel says it will study report (Adds details on ages, numbers, military official comments) By Maayan Lubell JERUSALEM, March 6 (Reuters) - Palestinian children detained by the Israeli military are subject to widespread, systematic ill-treatment that violates international law, a UNICEF report said on Wednesday.

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.

UN calls for independent inquiry into Palestinian death

The United Nations called Monday for an independent inquiry into the death of a Palestinian in Israeli custody, warning that mounting tensions risk an eruption of violence in the occupied territories. The Palestinians also demanded an independent investigation in a letter to the UN Security Council, which said that Arafat Jaradat, who died at the weekend, could have been tortured. UN Middle East peace envoy Robert Serry made the call for an investigation in a statement after talks with Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad on the Jaradat's death.
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