The Israel Prison Service released a video on Sunday that appears to show Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti eating in his prison cell while supposedly leading a hunger strike.
The video shows two times – once on April 27 and the other on May 5 – in which Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences on terrorism convictions, is seen walking to the bathroom in his cell with items in his hands.
On April 27, the IPS said, he ate two cookies. The video shows Barghouti entering the bathroom while holding some materials, however, the closed door obscures his actions.
On May 5, the bathroom door is ajar and Barghouti appears to be chewing. The IPS said he was eating a Tortit brand chocolate bar and a package of salt.
The video was taken at the Kishon Prison in northern Israel, where Barghouti was transferred to solitary confinement after the hunger strike began.
A spokeswoman for the IPS would not comment on how Barghouti obtained the food, while Hebrew media cited unnamed sources that claimed the food was laid as bait for the hunger-striking prisoner.
PLO Commission for Prisoners chairman Essa Qaraqaa on Sunday called the video an “Israeli game” in an attempt to pressure Barghouti. “This is not the first time this has happened.
I doubt the veracity of this film. In fact I think it’s fabricated,” he told The Jerusalem Post.
On April 17, 1,500 Palestinian security prisoners started a hunger strike to pressure the Israel Prison Service to end solitary confinement and administrative detentions, improve amenities and increase visitation rights. According to the IPS, 800 prisoners remain on hunger strike, while Palestinian figures are higher.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan has accused the hunger strike of being a political attempt by Barghouti to reassert himself in Palestinian politics.
Despite being imprisoned, Barghouti, who was sentenced to five life sentences in 2004, is seen as a major contender to succeed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
In the past year, several Palestinian administrative detainees who were being held without charges carried out hunger strikes before reaching deals with prison authorities to secure their release.Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.