The Israel Prisons Service has again reportedly prevented the attorneys representing convicted Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti from meeting the hunger-striking Fatah leader while in solitary confinement.
Reports in Hebrew and Arabic language media on Wednesday said Barghouti’s legal team was informed by the IPS their Thursday meeting with their client had been canceled.
Barghouti, 58, is leading hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails on a hunger strike to protest the terms of their incarceration.
There were close to 900 Palestinian prisoners taking part in the strike as it reached its 24th day on Wednesday.
Barghouti, a convicted terrorist serving five life sentences for orchestrating murderous attacks against Israelis during the Second Intifada, was moved to solitary confinement last month for initiating the hunger strike.
The prisoners are demanding better conditions, including more family visits.
Last month, Barghouti’s wife and lawyer said Israel was forbidding contact between the hunger-striking prisoners and their lawyers despite the High Court declaring the ban illegal.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas urged Israel on Tuesday to meet what he said were humanitarian demands. He said a possible deterioration in the health of the hunger strikers “would make the situation more and more complicated.”
The Palestinians sent a letter to the UN Security Council late Tuesday appealing to the international community for support of the hunger-striking prisoners and demanding that Israel respect their rights, dignity and humanity.
The letter from Palestinian Charge d’Affaires Feda Abdelhady-Nasser claimed Israel had not responded to the prisoners’ grievances and calls for an end “to solitary confinement, torture, medical negligence, and administrative detention, as well as for proper access to education, medical care and family visitation.”
The letter claimed that Israel has “intensified its abuse and collective punishment of the prisoners.”
On Sunday, Israeli authorities distributed video footage purporting to show Barghouti secretly eating in his cell. In the video, he can be seen apparently unwrapping food in his prison cell and eating it in his toilet stall.
Barghouti’s wife and other Palestinian officials dismissed the video as fake and an attempt to break the hunger strikers.
According to Palestinian officials, 1,500 inmates have been refusing food since the strike began 24 days ago to protest prison conditions. However, Israeli officials say only some 880 continue to refuse food and have threatened to bring in foreign doctors to force feed the prisoners.
Barghouti is a popular figure in Palestinian society and is seen as a possible successor to Abbas. Some analysts in Israel have pointed to the hunger strike as a bid by Barghouti to show Abbas he still wields political power.