Barghouti poised to win if hunger strike succeeds

The United Nations today said it was following closely a hunger strike by more than 1,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons and urged restraint following clashes with the strikers' supporters on the West Bank.

"I see no reason to skimp on this, while failing to do so risks the credibility of the author and the Op-Ed pages".

"This new hunger strike will demonstrate once more that the prisoners' movement is the compass that guides our struggle, the struggle for Freedom and Dignity, the name we have chosen for this new step in our long walk to freedom", he wrote.

"Israel's ruthless policy of holding Palestinian prisoners arrested in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in prisons ... is a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention", said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

The site further states that since 1967, 200 detainees have been "martyred" in prison due to "torture, medical negligence, being killed directly after detention or shot dead inside prison by soldiers and guards".

According to human rights organizations, there are now about 6,500 Palestinian political prisoners in Israel, including 57 women, 300 children, 13 legislators, 500 administrative detainees, 18 journalists and 800 prisoners requiring medical attention.

It is also gaining traction since Barghouti, who is serving multiple life terms in prison after Israel found him guilty of involvement in the deaths of four Israelis and a Greek monk, is widely expected to run for president once Mahmoud Abbas is out of the picture.

The prisoners want visitation rights expanded. "Palestinian prisoners have been demanding these basic rights for years", said Amina al-Taweel, spokesperson for the Hebron-based Palestinian Prisoners Center for Studies.

Another demand is to reinstate study programs for matriculation exams and correspondence courses. "They were brought to justice and are treated properly under worldwide law".

Barghouti and another strike leader, Karim Younis, were reportedly transferred to solitary confinement by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) on Monday in an apparent attempt to curb the protest.

Israeli authorities look to quell mass hunger strike through solitary confinement and punitive measures. Bennett noted that as the commander of Fatah's Tanzim paramilitary offshoot, Barghouti was behind the murders of dozens of Israelis.

If the strike is successful, it could also raise Fatah's standing in its rivalry with Hamas, which has taken an ambivalent posture toward it because it is a Fatah initiative.

The strike also promises to put the Palestinian cause back on the regional and worldwide agenda, where it has taken a back seat over the past six years due to the Arab Spring and the internal fighting in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen, according to Mkhaimar Abusada, a political scientist at al-Azhar University in Gaza.

Abusada does not believe Barghouti has called the strike to improve his standing, but he does predict that could be the result of it.

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