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Barghouti Refuses Treatment Despite Deteriorating Health | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Marwan Barghouti (photo credit:REUTERS/BAZ RATNER)

Ramallah, Tel Aviv – Fears have risen for jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti after reports stating his health is “dangerously deteriorating” especially that the hunger strike he began along with other detainees completed its first week. Barghouti is a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and Fatah Central Committee.

Fatah held Israel responsible for Barghouti’s life, while Kaddoura Fares, president of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, said they have little information about Barghouti but they know he is suffering from low blood sugar and pressure and that he is refusing to take any medical treatment. He warned that during the coming days the health of several more detainees could get worse especially the elderly and sick.

Media Committee of Freedom and Dignity collective hunger strike confirmed that the health condition of Barghouti has severally deteriorated. Prisoners from all Palestinian political factions are participating in the mass open-ended hunger strike led by Barghouti.

Palestinian Prisoners Club reported that the prison’s warden asked Barghouti to take treatment, but he refused. He then asked Barghouti’s fellow prisoner Nasser Abu Hamid to convince Barghouti to get medical treatment.

Hamid declined, according to the report, saying if Barghouti did die, “he will die a martyr.”

Barghouti is one of the most influential detainees and is considered a candidate for the time post-Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. He is leading over 1,500 prisoners in a hunger strike, which was launched on Monday, April 17, to demand better prison conditions and treatment. He is the only one designated to negotiate with the prisoner’s management and declaring the end of the strike.

The prisoners are demanding to be moved to prisons in the occupied territories as per the Fourth Geneva Convention, which would make it easier for their families to visit them, as well as lifting restrictions on family visits and better treatment at military checkpoints.

Israel is refusing to negotiate with the prisoners amid calls to leave the prisoners to die.

Fatah said that Israel is held accountable for any deterioration in the health of Barghouti or his fellow prisoners.

Fatah spokesperson Osama al-Qawasmi said Barghouti is leading this alongside his fellow detainees to send a message to the whole world that Palestinians are determined to get their freedom and that Israel’s solitary and suppressive policies will not bring their wills down.

Qawasmi said that Fatah and the Palestinian people support the prisoners and their rights. He called upon the international community to interfere instantly to save the lives of the detainees.

For the eighth day, Israel won’t allow lawyers of the prisoners to visit them. Palestinian authority is contacting international communities and organizations to pressure Israel into giving the prisoners their rights.

Former Israeli politician and author Uri Avnery described Marwan al-Barghouti as the “Palestinian Mandela” in one of his articles. He wrote about the several times he visited Barghuouti in his “modest Ramallah home.” He also described the conversations they had discussing Israeli-Palestinian peace.

“Our ideas were the same: to create the State of Palestine next to the State of Israel, and to establish peace between the two states, based on the 1967 lines (with minor adjustments), with open borders and cooperation,” wrote Avnery.

Avnery said that Barghouti is a born leader, and despite his small physical stature, he stands out in any gathering.

He added: “This week, Barghouti, together with about a thousand other Palestinian prisoners in Israel, started an unlimited hunger strike. I have just signed a petition for his release.”

The author said that both Barghouti and Mandela were men of peace, but justified the use of violence against their oppressors. However, he added, while the Apartheid regime was satisfied with one life term, Barghouti was sentenced to a “ridiculous five life terms and another 40 years, for acts of violence executed by his Tanzim organization.”

“Gush Shalom published a statement this week suggesting that by the same logic, Menachem Begin should have been sentenced by the British to 91 life terms for the bombing of the King David hotel, in which 91 people, many of them Jews, lost their lives,” concluded Avnery.