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Israel releases video purporting to show Barghouti eating in prison cell

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)
Israeli Public Security Minister accuses Barghouti of using hunger strike to advance 'political ambitions'

A video released by the Israeli Prison Service on Sunday purportedly shows Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti eating in his cell. The clip's release comes on day 21 of a mass hunger strike.

The video, dated the 27th of April, purportedly shows Barghouti eating food in the bathroom of his cell, ten days after hunger strike began.

Fadwa Barghouti, wife of the Palestinian leader, told i24NEWS on Sunday evening that the video was old and was being used as "a tool of the occupation" to break the morale of the prisoners. Fadwa Barghouti insisted that the Israeli authorities were concealing information about the prisoners and said that the Israeli authorities were preventing lawyers and family members from visiting her husband. She said that she does not know any details about his condition.

Sources told i24NEWS that the National Commission for solidarity with Palestinian prisoners called for a general strike on Sunday, following the release of the video. The strike is slated to begin on Thursday morning and continue until Thursday at noon.

Barghouti, who is leading the strike, is a senior figure in the Hamas' rival Fatah and is in jail over the deaths of five Israelis during the second intifada, or uprising. Israeli authorities say 894 Palestinian prisoners have kept up the strike. The hunger strike over prison conditions began on April 17, with those taking part ingesting only water and salt.

Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan said Sunday that the strike was a tool being used by Barghouti to advance his own political ambitions.

"As I said from the very beginning, this hunger strike was never about the conditions of the convicted terrorists, which meet international standards," Erdan said. "It is about advancing Marwan Barghouti's political ambitions to replace Abu Mazen. Barghouti is a murderer and hypocrite who urged his fellow prisoners to strike and suffer while he ate behind their back. Just like he lied to the world when he wrote in the New York Times that he decided to strike in order to protest ill-treatment, he lied to the Palestinian public when he claimed to be striking. Israel will not give in to extortion and pressure from terrorists."

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.

Some 6,500 Palestinians are currently detained by Israel for a range of offenses and alleged crimes. Around 500 are held under administrative detention.

Read more:

EXCLUSIVE: Prisoner's wife Fadwa Barghouti speaks with i24NEWS on hunger strike

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