Palestinians slam Israel for refusing talks with hunger strikers

James Carver Jo Coburn and Roberto Gualtieri

Israel's Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, however, has said that the strike was motivated by internal Palestinian politics rather than a complaint on prison conditions, and called the demands "unreasonable".

Nearly 6,500 Palestinians are being held in 22 Israeli prisons, said Qadoura Fares, head of the Palestinian Prisoners' Club that advocates on behalf of the inmates.

Bourghouti's rise to power would also anger the PLO's Israeli negotiating partners, many of whom have denounced him as a terrorist and incapable of ever being a partner for peace.

According to Palestinian medical sources, 20 Palestinians suffered temporary asphyxiation due to the excessive use of teargas by Israeli troops. Israeli rule over the West Bank and east Jerusalem, territories captured during the 1967 war and claimed by the Palestinians as part of a future state, reaches the half-century mark in June.

The article, penned to commemorate hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners on Palestinian Prisoners Day, pulls no punches against the regime that has imprisoned Mr. Barghouti.

Around 6,500 Palestinians are now detained by Israel for a range of offences and alleged crimes.

Prison officials have started "disciplinary measures towards the striking prisoners and transferring them into separate cell blocks", the spokesman said.

The insistence on focusing on the violent pasts of Palestinians leaders like Barghouti not only distracts from the prisoners' human rights demands, but is also heavily distorted by people's selective knowledge of history. Abbas is 82 years old and professes to have no interest in prolonging his term in office which actually ended five years ago. Further, Barghouti's defiant refusal to accept the legitimacy of the Israeli court proceedings-an act of civil disobedience-is left unexplained.

Mansour saluted the more than 1,000 prisoners on hunger strike and said they were protesting what he called their "inhumane treatment and torture by Israel" and calling attention to the over 6,500 Palestinians imprisoned or arbitrarily detained. After exhausting all other options, I decided there was no choice but to resist these abuses by going on a hunger strike. A biographical sentence at the end of the Op-Ed simply says, "Marwan Barghouti is a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian". "We will never lose our sense of clarity because we are on the side of justice and they are on the side that is neither just nor moral".

Obviously, the Israeli government and its supporters have a political interest in denying Barghouti credibility to write for the New York Times, as evinced by some of the responses to the op-ed: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu describes Barghouti, in a Facebook status posted on Tuesday, as an "arch terrorist" who is no more a "political leader" than Bashar al-Assad is a "pediatrician".

"They are terrorists and incarcerated murderers who are getting what they deserve".

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