Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti at Jerusalem's Magistrate Court, Jan. 25, 2012. (Flash90) (Flash90)
Marwan Barghouti

Palestinian prisoners ended their hunger strike after backing down from the majority of their demands from Israel.

Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners ended their 40-day hunger strike after reaching a compromise with Israel for additional family visits, but backing down from the majority of their demands.

Israel Prison Service (IPS) spokeswoman Nicole Englander said the convicts declared an end to the strike on Saturday morning after reaching a deal with the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Red Cross for prisoners to receive an additional family visit each month – up from one visit to two.

The Palestinians also demanded improved medical services, more access to educational materials and degrees, 20 television channels, sports shoes and several other oddities, but failed to win approval.

Englander said 1,578 prisoners participated in the hunger strike overall, with some fasting intermediately, and 834 ended their fast Saturday. She said 18 were being treated in hospitals.

Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan slammed the strike, saying it was motivated by a political power struggle in Abbas’ Fatah movement. Imprisoned strike organizer Marwan Barghouti, he said, cynically exploited his fellow prisoners to boost his standing in Fatah and promote his position as a possible successor to PA head Mahmoud Abbas.

Barghouti, 58, was filmed breaking his supposed strike, eating chocolate bars and cookies while hiding in his cell bathroom.

Barghouti is serving five life terms after being convicted in 2002 by an Israeli court of directing two shooting attacks and a bombing that murdered five people.

Minister Erdan: ‘We Do Not Negotiate with Terrorists’

Erdan accused Barghouti of being a “murderer and hypocrite who urged his fellow prisoners to strike and suffer while he ate behind their back…he lied to the Palestinian public when he claimed to be striking. Israel will not give in to extortion and pressure from terrorists.”

Commenting on the end of the strike on Saturday, Erdan said that the terrorists received nothing, stressing that Israel did not negotiate with the Palestinians at any time and that the prisoners dealt only with the PA.

The terrorists finally understood that there was no point in the strike, Erdan said. “They searched for a ladder to descend from the tree and decided to end the strike after the PA agreed to pay for the visitations instead of the Red Cross. The strike ended with a clear message to Barghouti and his terrorist friends: We do not negotiate with the terrorists,” Erdan stated.

By: United with Israel Staff
AP contributed to this report.