Marwan Barghouti is ready to lead the hunger strike of Fatah’s political prisoners, as a protest against Israel and to improve living conditions in prisons. But this action also has an obvious domestic political objective: to put pressure on the leaders of the party and the Palestinian National Authority.
Barghouti, known as the “Palestinian Mandela” and the most popular Fatah leader in the occupied Palestinian territories, has been sidelined despite being the most voted among the members of the Central Committee at the recent party congress. And from prison, with the strong support of around 3,000 Fatah prisoners, he now challenges those who are candidates to replace the 82-year-old President Abu Mazen. For days, his wife Fadwa, also a Fatah leader, has been launching accusations against the upper echelons of the party on social media.
They are planning to begin the hunger strike on April 17. Barghouti has made several requests to the Israeli authorities, such as the increase of family visit days to the families of prisoners, a solution for the overcrowding in cells and setup of public telephones available to the detainees. He is pushing to set up a negotiations table that the Israeli minister for internal security Gilad Erdan rejects. The latter has already ordered the establishment of a field hospital near the Katziot prison, the most engaged in the protest, to treat prisoners who might have health problems because of prolonged fasting, without having to send them to hospitals.