Israel refuses negotiation over mass Palestinian hunger strike
Israel refused on Tuesday to negotiate with hundreds of Palestinian prisoners on a hunger strike organized by the notorious terrorist Marwan Barghouti, who is serving life in prison for multiple murders.
Israel's controversial "administrative detention" policy sees a varying number of Palestinians held without charge in prisons, often accused of links to militant group Hamas.
The essay asserted that "Israel has established a dual legal regime, a form of judicial apartheid, that provides virtual impunity for Israelis who commit crimes against Palestinians, while criminalizing Palestinian presence and resistance".
The media committee said the strikers aim at restoring many of their rights that were taken away by the occupation prisons administration, which they had achieved through many past strikes.
"Palestinian prisoners and detainees have suffered from torture, inhumane and degrading treatment, and medical negligence", Barghouti said.
The United Nations on Tuesday said it was following closely a hunger strike by more than 1,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons and urged restraint following clashes with the strikers' supporters in the West Bank.
Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that he believes the strike has no legitimacy.
"Having spent the last 15 years in an Israeli prison, I have been both a witness to and a victim of Israel's illegal system of mass arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners", he wrote.
"The Israeli authorities and its prison service have turned basic rights that should be guaranteed under worldwide law - including those painfully secured through previous hunger strikes - into privileges they decide to grant us or deprive us of", he wrote.
This includes 300 minors and more than 500 administrative detainees.
Barghouti wrote that Israeli prisons have become the "cradle of a lasting movement for Palestinian self-determination".
Those on hunger strike have issued a list of demands, including access to phones, extended visiting rights and better medical care.
Palestinians consider those held in Israeli jails as national heroes.
In an interview on Monday on Israel's Army Radio, Oren said that the New York Times should be "held accountable" if someone at the paper had helped Barghouti to smuggle out the op-ed.
Barghouti has remained politically active behind bars, and is a popular figure among Palestinians who have tipped him among likely candidates to succeed 82-year-old Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.