Imprisoned Palestinian Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti has filed a petition against poor conditions in the Israeli prison which appear to be life threatening. Barghouti is widely considered the most popular leader among Palestinians and considered the only leader capable of reviving the credibility of the Palestinian National Authority. His name has appeared on possible prisoner exchange lists in the past month.
According to the Times of Israel on Jan. 3, Barghouti is petitioning an Israeli court to remove him from the isolation wing of a prison to which he was transferred in December, alleging mistreatment by guards and poor conditions. He is being represented by Israeli civil rights lawyer Avigdor Feldman. Among Barghouti’s claims is that he has been abused by guards and was put into solitary confinement for five days at Ayalon Prison. The move and abuse occurred after an early-December statement was released in Barghouti’s name calling for Palestinian Authority security forces to fight against Israel.
According to the Walla news site, his petition claims prison guards came to his cell at Ofer Prison, cuffed his arms and legs and forced him to walk in a painful stance as he was transferred to Ayalon Prison. Moreover, the prison warden punched him and threatened, “I will tear you apart,” before his transfer. Barghouti’s conditions being termed harsh, including that he was kept naked and handcuffed while guards conducted searches three times a day; he was also denied sufficient food, getting three small slices of bread, yogurt, two spoons of beans, and three spoonfuls of rice; guards even took his mattress, forcing him to sleep on the floor.
The Israel Prison Service responded to his report that it operates strictly according to rules and procedures, and that a response will be made to Barghouti’s petition through “the usual channels.”