Palestinians ask Red Cross to intervene in hunger strike

TPSGilad Erdan at the Jerusalem Conference Feb. 13 2017

Ajwa, who visit the Palestinian prisoners at Ashkelon Prison, said that the Israeli prison services confiscated all the belongings of the prisoners. Their protest is expected to involve more than 2,000 detainees. The careful timing of the strike - launched to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory - has only further fueled that speculation. At times it happens that family members who are willing to meet their relatives do not reach in time or are not allowed to cross, resulting in a senseless psychological stress both for them and the detainees.

In the piece, Barghouti makes reference to his life sentences and additional 40 - year term but he does not [identify] the crimes for which he was convicted. Barghouti was an outspoken supporter of armed resistance when the Oslo process collapsed.

"This moral clarity, the readiness to defend our country, the readiness to fight those who would destroy us, is one of our greatest strengths, alongside love of Israel", Netanyahu concluded.

'If their demands are not met, more prisoners will join the strike, ' he said.

The publication actually only went part of the way to "correct the issue". Barghouti's document explains his reasons behind the protest.

The inmates' unity is most likely due to the high consideration Barghouti enjoys among the Palestinian population.

While Barghouti did not issue a defense in his trial, he did separately deny the charges that were alleged against him: that he was the commander and founder of a Palestinian armed group whose members, in turn, carried out various attacks on civilians. A 2014 Palestinian Center for Public Opinion poll showed that he would defeat President Abbas by a smaller margin, showing he has gained momentum over the years.

Israeli officials have said that they will not negotiate with the hunger strikers, while Palestinian leaders within the Palestinian Authority have threatened a renewed Intifada in the event that any hunger strikers die. Abbas's politics back home are still hard, and having a friendlier White House than he anticipated does not change the fact that he is a weak political leader without the legitimacy or the chits to say yes to any comprehensive peace deal. So the question, without taking a position on whether or not political violence is ever justified, is why the Times feels compelled to take a different stance when it comes to Palestinian contributors.

Even with growing public support and worldwide attention, Barghouti faces a number of challenges in becoming the next Palestinian leader.

At the same time, Barghouti's actions may also undermine and threaten Abbas. Not to mention the fact he is serving serving five consecutive life sentences.

Lieberman also called for the imprisonment of all Arab leaders in Israel who are in solidarity with the prisoners.

If the strike is able to sustain itself and energize the Palestinian public, the prisoners could reclaim the people's faith in their political leadership - something that neither the PA nor Hamas governments have been able to retain. "He believes in the approach, which typifies terror organizations, that the West is weak and naïve and so our media and good intentions should be cynically abused to attack us from within", Lapid wrote.

Barghouti's New York Times byline was the type of thing that drives Israeli politicians and American Jews up a wall with frustration.

The strike prompted a large rally in Gaza and a protest broke out near the occupied West Bank town of Bethlehem where Palestinian demonstrators clashed with Israeli forces.

"If their demands are not met, more prisoners will join the strike", he was quoted by AFP news agency as saying. In its tagline at the bottom of his article, the Times said only this: "Marwan Barghouti is a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian". Abbas is coming to DC this time to meet with a president whose vision is not almost as fully formed on the details, but he will undoubtedly be asked by Trump to commit to something more specific than being willing to talk.

Cover: Portrait of jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti.

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