JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Israel Prison Service released a video that shows Marwan Barghouti, the high-profile Palestinian prisoner leading a hunger strike, secretly eating in the bathroom of his cell.
The video released Sunday shows Barghouti eating twice, on April 27 and May 5.
Haaretz cited unnamed sources in the Prison Service as saying they set up Barghouti with the food in order to see if he was sticking to his hunger strike. Barghouti is being held in Kishon Prison, to where he was transferred after launching his strike.
“As I said from the very beginning, this hunger strike was never about the conditions of the convicted terrorists, which meet international standards,” Israel’s minister of public security, Gilad Erdan, said in a statement following the release of the video. “It is about advancing Marwan Barghouti’s political ambitions to replace Abu Mazen.”
Abu Mazen is the nom de guerre of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas; Barghouti is seen as a possible successor to Abbas.
The hunger strike launched three weeks ago with a Barghouti op-ed in The New York Times. Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners joined the action calling for more favorable prison conditions. Barghouti is serving multiple life sentences for the murder of five Jewish Israelis.
Barghouti’s lawyer, Elias Sabbagh, told Haaretz in response to the video: “This was expected as part of the psychological and media war the Israel Prison Service is conducting against the prisoners. We can’t address the content of the clip so long as they don’t let us meet with Marwan. Let us visit him and then we will check the claims with him.”
Some 850 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are still taking part in the strike. Israeli authorities are considering bringing in foreign doctors to force-feed the strikers if Israeli doctors continue to resist taking part in the practice, as advised by the Israel Medical Association.