Hundreds of Palestinians who are being held captive in Israel have gone on hunger strike, as part of their newest effort to gain more freedom while in captivity. The strike is said to be the most significant of its kind in the past five years.
According to News Chief, the Palestinian prisoners are demanding certain rights as part of their condition to end their strike. These include more contact with relatives and loved ones, better living conditions and ultimately an end to the right of Israel’s government to detain individuals without first giving them a fair trial. The hunger strike was orchestrated by Marwan Barghouti, who is also the head leader of this movement.
Barghouti could quite possibly be the successor to current Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, who is 82 and to whom there is no current political heir having been groomed for the position. Polls have shown that the public feel Barghouti may be the best choice, despite his controversial legal history.
In 2002, the 57-year-old was arrested during the Palestinian uprising that turned quite violent and killed over 800 people. This uprising is also known as the Second Intifada, lasting from the year 2000 to 2005. Israel charged Barghouti with “directing suicide bombs against [the country’s] citizens”, and as such he was given five life terms. The activist has become notorious over the years for his disdain towards Israeli authorities, having been taken into custody numerous times for actions ranging from throwing rocks to joining groups which have been outlawed by Israel‘s government.
As reported by ABC News, the Israeli government has no current plans to enter talks regarding ending the Palestinians’ hunger strike. Benjamin Netanyahu is said to be fully willing to wait the situation out, whether it results in the prisoners changing their mind or dying the hard way. The nation’s officials have also refuted Barghouti’s claims that prisoners held in the country are regularly subjected to medical neglect and torture, as well as inhumane treatment.
Al Jazeera gives detail to a statement issued by Netanyahu himself, in which he referred to the hunger strike’s leader as an “arch-terrorist”, blasting The New York Times for calling the man a “parliamentarian and leader”. This, Israel’s Prime Minister continued, was essentially the same as comparing Syria’s Bashar al-Assad to a doctor.
Prison officials have been ordered by the nation’s government to instill “punitive measures”, as it were, in order to pressure the Palestinians to give up their strike. Those leading figures taking part in the movement have been transferred to solitary confinement, while other willing participants have had their clothes and belongings confiscated. Barghouti will reportedly soon be taken to court, where he will be prosecuted for an op-ed he released to The Times, in which he gave several quite damning statements concerning life in an Israeli prison.
By Lorelai Zelmerlow