Israel releases video purportedly showing hunger-striking Palestinian leader sneaking cookies
Israel released video footage Sunday purportedly showing Marwan Barghouti, a man Palestinians compare to Nelson Mandela and the leader of an open-ended hunger strike by hundreds of Palestinians incarcerated in Israel, breaking the strike by sneaking a mouthful of cookies.
The hunger strike started on April 17, a fight, the prisoners said, to improve deteriorating living conditions imposed by the Israeli Prison Service on thousands of Palestinians held in Israeli jails. They are asking for more family visits, education options and public telephones, and are protesting unfair trials, detention of children, medical negligence and solitary confinement.
The Israelis have said, however, that the strike is political, and that Barghouti is attempting to assert his leadership — from behind bars — and challenge Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Israel’s minister for public security, Gilad Erdan, said from the start that he has no intention of negotiating with the prisoners.
On Sunday, the Israel Prison Service, which is in Erdan’s purview, released security footage of the Palestinian leader eating two cookies and a candy bar in the toilet stall of his cell. The video shows Barghouti appearing to try to hide the evidence by flushing the wrapper down the toilet.
“As I said from the very beginning, this hunger strike was never about the conditions of the convicted terrorists, which meet international standards. It is about advancing Marwan Barghouti’s political ambitions to replace Abu Mazen,” Erdan said in a statement, referring to Abbas by his nickname.
“Barghouti is a murderer and hypocrite who urged his fellow prisoners to strike and suffer while he ate behind their back,” he said. He also released a video with his statement.
A onetime advocate for peace, Barghouti turned militant, leading Palestinians through two “intifadas,” or uprisings, against Israel. He has spent the past 15 years in jail, convicted by an Israeli court of five counts of murder and membership in a terrorist organization.
SOURCE: Ruth Eglash
The Washington Post