Hunger-striking Palestinian leader begins to refuse water on 30th day


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Convicted Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti has stopped drinking water as part of his hunger strike against the Israel Prisons Services.

Barghouti announced the ramping up of his hunger strike on Tuesday, its 30th day.

According to the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, 1,300 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are fasting for more favorable conditions, the Palestinian Maan news agency reported. The Israel Prisons Services puts the figure at closer to 850.

The hunger-striking prisoners are only taking a mixture of water and salt for sustenance.

A statement issued by the Palestinian prisoners committee said the Israeli government is responsible for leading the prisoners along a “tragic and disastrous road,” and putting hunger strikers in imminent danger by taking “a criminal stance regarding the just demands of prisoners,” according to Maan.

Among the demands are a public pay phone for prisoner use; access to 20 television channels; giving Gaza prisoners the same visitation rights as other prisoners and increasing visitation rights for all; allowing books, magazines and newspapers to enter the prison without limitation; changing and increasing the products available at the prison store and increasing the amount of money a prisoner’s family can deposit for him; housing only four prisoners per cell; allowing prisoners to prepare their own food, and ending solitary confinement.

The hunger strike launched a month ago with a Barghouti op-ed in The New York Times. Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners joined the action calling for more favorable prison conditions. Barghouti is serving multiple life sentences for the murder of five Jewish Israelis.

The Israel Prison Service released a video recently showing Barghouti secretly eating in the bathroom of his cell on April 27 and May 5.