Jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti on Sunday urged Palestinians to carry out acts of “civil disobedience” to commemorate Nakba Day on Monday, which marks the “catastrophe” of the creation of Israel each year on May 15.
For the first time since initiating a hunger strike in prison 28 days ago, Barghouti was allowed to meet with his lawyer Khader Shkirat on Sunday for three hours.
The attorney said his client denied the authenticity of a video released by the Israel Prisons Service last week purportedly showing him secretly eating a candy bar in his cell.
Shikrat said his client told him the cell featured in the video, with a bunk bed, is much nicer than the run-down single-bed cell where he is currently held. Israel moved Barghouti into isolation at the start of the strike.
The attorney said that Barghouti had lost 13 kilograms (28 pounds) since beginning the hunger strike on April 17. Seemingly undeterred by his alleged deteriorating health, the Fatah leader told his attorney that he would escalate the protest by refusing to drink water.
In a letter by Barghouti obtained by Lebanese outlet Al Mayadeen on Sunday, the convicted terrorist — who is serving five life terms for orchestrating the murders of Israelis during the Second Intifada — orders the public to ratchet up tensions with Israel on Monday in solidarity with the fasting security inmates.
On behalf of the Palestinian prisoners, the Fatah leader pledged to “continue the battle of freedom and dignity for Palestine” until the goals of the prisoners were achieved.
He stressed that all attempts by Israeli authorities to “blackmail” him or his fellow prisoners would “only increase their belief in victory.”
Barghouti also appealed to the two main Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, calling on them to enter into a national reconciliation agreement. At the same time, he warned against a resumption of negotiations with Israel based on the same principles that have “proven unsuccessful in the past.”
Among the prisoners’ demands are better medical services, family visits, and more dignified detention conditions. But Israel has vowed not to negotiate with the inmates, with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan calling them “terrorists and incarcerated murderers.”
Sources in the Israel Prisons Service told Channel 2 last week that it is not only Barghouti who has been secretly snacking in his cell, but a number of other security prisoners as well.
Separate intelligence sources told the news channel that the leaked video of Barghouti has been viewed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as a “gift from heaven” due to the damage it has done to the image of his Fatah rival.
Palestinian Prisoners Club head Qadura Fares told The Times of Israel that in addition to being strip-searched four times a day, Barghouti has been given only a single blanket and has not been allowed to change his clothes once since he began the strike.
Israeli authorities say 894 Palestinian prisoners have kept up the hunger strike, while Palestinian officials say it is more than 1,000.