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Palestinian hunger strike leader calls for 'civil disobedience' on Nakba Day

Hunger strike leader Marwan Barghouti is an iconic figure for many Palestinians. Here he is seen with his cuffed hands raised above his head flashing a peace sign during his trial in 2003, an image that has been daubed on walls across the West Bank
TAL COHEN (AFP/File)
Barghouti also urged for reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas amid hunger strike

Imprisoned Palestinian hunger strike leader and former Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti urged for reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas Sunday, as well as for Palestinians to carry out "acts of civil disobedience" ahead of Nakba Day, on Monday, marking the "Day of Catastrophe" for Palestinians.

Bargouti reportedly penned a letter on Day 28 of the mass hunger strike addressed to fellow strikers from his prison cell, in which he calls upon the Palestinian people to engage in acts of civil disobedience in the face of the "Israeli occupation." The full letter is slated to be published by Arabic media later on Sunday, according to the Arabic media outlet al-Mayadeen.

Several demonstrations have ignited across the West Bank in solidarity with the prisoners since the so-called "Freedom and Dignity" strike, orchestrated by imprisoned Fatah member Marwan Barghouti, was launched on April 17.

On Friday, one Palestinian was killed by IDF gunfire as clashes escalated, according to Palestinian media.

The letter called on the public to ramp up tensions with Israel on behalf of the Palestinian prisoners as a show of further solidarity.

Barghouti, vowed to "continue the battle of freedom and dignity for Palestine" until the demands of the strike, which he has maintained are all humanitarian ones, are met.

He also appealed to rivaling Palestinian factions, Fatah, which maintains leadership over the West Bank territories, and Hamas who has seized control over the Gaza Strip since 2007, urging them to agree to reconcile.

The popular political figure was convicted in 2004 and is serving out five life sentences for five counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, and was implicated in four other terror attacks during the second intifada (uprising).

Barghouti has remained politically active behind bars, and is a popular figure among Palestinians who have tipped him among likely candidates to succeed 82-year-old Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Israel initially vowed not to negotiate with the hundreds of Palestinian detainees participating in the strike but reports released on Friday indicate that Israel may have changed their stance.

"Negotiations are out of the question," said Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan in April, stating that the IPS would not conduct negotiations with the prisoners in accordance with prison policy.

What began with some 1,000 prisoners participating, Israeli authorities say some 894 Palestinian prisoners have kept up the strike, while Palestinian officials maintain that the number remains over 1,000. The strikers have been ingesting only water and salt.

Hunger striking prisoners from various Palestinian political factions -- including Fatah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and some members of the Islamist group Hamas -- have made demands including the installation of public telephones and televisions in prison wards, the resumption of academic studies and bi-monthly visitations for inmates, and re-location to facilities in the Palestinian territories.

They are also calling for an end to solitary confinement and Israel's controversial administrative detention policy, which allows renewable six-month periods of detention without trial.

Israel maintains that conditions meet all international standards.

Read more:

Israel to negotiate with Palestinian prisoners to end hunger strike

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