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Barghouti to refuse water, upping stakes of Palestinian hunger strike: report

Palestinian protesters wave flags bearing the image of jailed uprising leader Marwan Barghouti at a rally in the West Bank city of Ramallah on April 17, 2017 in support of a hunger strike he has called among prisoners in Israeli jails
Palestinian hunger strike leader requests newspapers and AC in letter released by Israeli authorities

Palestinian hunger strike leader Marwan Barghouti is reportedly now refusing to drink water in an effort to increase pressure on Israel to meet prisoners' demands.

Barghouti’s lawyer Khader Shkirat was quoted by the Palestinian news agency Ma'an as saying that refusing drinking water would mark "a new turning point" in the month-long hunger strike.

On Monday, Israel published a list of 19 demands made by Barghouti in a letter sent to Prisons Service head Commissioner Ofrah Klinger, including access to 20 TV channels, air conditioning, longer visits with his family, and unlimited supply of newspapers and the ability to return to his academic studies for Palestinian prisoners.

The letter is not dated and it is unclear when it was written.

Shkirat accused Israel of adopting "a criminal stance regarding the just demands of prisoners," and said Barghouti is unwilling to negotiate or compromise on his demands.

He said that by refusing to meet prisoners' demands, Israel is leading hunger strikers down a "tragic and disastrous road" and inflicting a "slow death" upon them.

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.

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..

Bargouti reportedly penned another letter on Day 28 of the mass hunger strike addressed to fellow strikers from his prison cell, in which he called upon the Palestinian people to engage in acts of civil disobedience in the face of the "Israeli occupation."

In it, Barghouti urged reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas Sunday, as well as for Palestinians to carry out "acts of civil disobedience"

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.

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:

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

Israel to negotiate with Palestinian prisoners to end hunger strike


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