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Committee says alleged footage of Marwan Barghouthi breaking hunger strike is fake

May 7, 2017 10:44 P.M. (Updated: May 8, 2017 3:27 P.M.)
A screenshot of a video allegedly showing Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi breaking his hunger strike.
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- A committee supporting the mass Palestinian prisoner hunger strike has denounced footage released Sunday evening by the Israel Prison Service (IPS) purporting to show strike leader Marwan Barghouthi eating in his prison cell, calling the release part of an Israeli “war of lies” to discredit the prisoner movement.

The footage -- which did not bear timestamps and did not clearly show the face of the prisoner being filmed -- allegedly showed Barghouthi, a Fatah leader and the emblematic figure of the hunger strike, hiding in a bathroom stall to eat sweets, and was shared widely on Israeli media on Sunday.

According to Israeli daily Haaretz, sources from IPS admitted that the organization "set him up in an attempt to see whether Barghouti was really sticking to the hunger strike."

IPS claimed that the surveillance videos were filmed during the hunger strike, which began on April 17 to demand basic rights and denounce Israel’s use of torture, medical neglect, and administrative detention against Palestinians.

However, the National Committee for the Freedom and Dignity Strike -- a joint committee formed by the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) and Palestinian Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs -- said that the footage dated back to at least 2004.

The committee said IPS’ decision to share the footage and present it as recent was evidence that Israel was “waging a serious war of lies and misleading information to create a state of confusion in the Palestinian public and among hunger striking prisoners.”

Fadwa Barghouthi, a member of the Fatah party’s Revolutionary Council and Barghouthi’s wife, said during a news conference on Sunday evening that the “Israel government’s fabrications” showed “the extent of the (Israeli) occupation’s decline,” adding that it would not affect the resolve of the estimated 1,500 prisoners participating in the strike.

IPS has imposed a range of repressive measures in an attempt to quash the hunger strike, including solitary confinement, arbitrary prisoner transfers, nightly cell raids, lawyer and family visitation bans, and the confiscation of personal belongings including salt -- the only nutrient hunger strikers have been consuming except for water.

Israeli authorities have detained approximately one million Palestinians since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 and the subsequent occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip in 1967, according to Palestinian organizations.

According to prisoners' rights organization Addameer, some 6,300 Palestinians were held in Israeli custody as of April.
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