How the hunger strike could bring Palestinian prisoners back to the fore

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As hundreds of Arab terrorists maintained their hunger strike for a fourth day, young members of the right-wing Ichud Haleumi (National Union) party - now a faction in Jewish Home - made a decision to help them "celebrate", by holding a barbecue outside the gates of Ofer Prison outside Jerusalem, where many security prisoners are housed. The failure to achieve any sort of unity between the Fatah faction which governs the West Bank and the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip have prevented new elections resulting in Hamas disavowing Abbas as an illegitimate president.

The Palestinian Red Crescent reported that Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian youth in the face with a rubber-coated steel bullet, while at least 11 people suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation during the clashes. But the import of Barghouti's op-ed is not the revisionist history treatment of his biography; it is rather the fact that he chose to write it now and what it says about Palestinian politics going forward and the American effort to get Israelis and Palestinians to the negotiating table.

In response to the hunger strike, Barghouti has been moved to solitary confinement. Barghouti assails Israel's imprisonment of near 40 percent of Palestinian men, its systematic violation of the laws of war, and the lack of basic due process in Israel's military tribunals. For decades, Palestinians in Israeli prisons have had their rights systematically denied or restricted under the guise of "security", with few questioning the legality or practical necessity of the state's measures. "We call upon the government and its leader to further worsen conditions for terrorists and to act with conviction for the release of the soldiers Goldin and Shaul who fought for us all". They believe that as the days go by and Barghouti realizes that he does not enjoy sweeping support, the strike will fizzle. He called their strike "light", meaning they had gone along with it, but the chances of their sustaining it are nil.

Palestinians termed the open-ended strike a protest against poor conditions and an Israeli policy of detention without trial that has been applied against thousands since the 1980s.

The prisoners are demanding improved conditions such as the installation of pay phones in all prison wings, as well as allowing more frequent family visits.

The hunger strike has been led by prominent prisoner and popular Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences over his role in the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising.

The Prisoners' Club said a main demand was for Israel to halt detention without trial for some 500 Palestinians now being held, and for an end to solitary confinement. The last large-scale hunger strike was in February 2013, when 3,000 Palestinians refused to eat for one day to protest against the death of a fellow detainee.

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