The Prisons Service on Wednesday agreed to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti on Thursday.A Prisons Service lawyer sent a letter to Adalah, a legal advocacy group, informing it that it had agreed to permit a Red Cross representative to carry out “a special visit” to Barghouti.Barghouti, who was convicted of five counts of murder, is leading a mass hunger strike in Israeli prisons. He has not been visited by the Red Cross since starting the hunger strike on April 17.The announcement of the Red Cross’s visit to Barghouti came a day after the Prisons Service canceled a meeting between Barghouti and his lawyer, Khader Shreikat.The Prisons Service sent Shreikat a text message late Tuesday night, informing him that his meeting with Barghouti, which was scheduled for Thursday at 11 a.m., was canceled.“I inform you that the meeting which was set with the prisoner Marwan Barghouti on Thursday was canceled,” the text message said.A Prisons Service spokeswoman told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday afternoon that Shreikat and Barghouti’s meeting was postponed, without clarifying a future date.Shreikat had received an official letter earlier on Tuesday, confirming his appointment with Barghouti.“This an illegal move,” Shreikat said in a phone interview. “I think the Prisons Service wants to isolate him from his lawyers completely.”The High Court heard a case last Wednesday regarding hunger strikers’ access to lawyers. After the state decided not to provide a defense, the court reinstated the hunger strikers’ access.Shreikat said that he is weighing petitioning the High Court to secure a visit with Barghouti.
“I want to understand why I am being denied access to him. I have tried to call on the Prisons Service officer all morning, but he’s not answering the phone,” Shreikat. “I am considering returning to the High Court with the help of Adalah.”The Prisons Service released a video on Sunday, in which it said that Barghouti was eating cookies and a chocolate bar on two separate occasions.Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said the video shows that Barghouti is using the hunger strike as a political tool.“I hope the prisoners will understand that the leader of the [hunger] striking is cynically exploiting them, while not participating on his own,” Erdan told Army Radio. Multiple Palestinian leaders said the video was a fabrication and an attempt to break the morale of the hunger-striking prisoners.
Imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti eats in prison (credit: ISRAEL PRISON SERVICE)