Senior Palestinian Authority officials have sent a message to a Fatah leader imprisoned by Israel calling on him to call off the mass hunger strike of Palestinian prisoners, local media revealed on Sunday. According to Al-Resalah newspaper, though, an informed source at the PA said that Marwan Al-Barghouti aims to regain his influence within Fatah through the protest action. Neither the source nor Al-Barghouti or his wife has denied the news.
The hunger strike was called for today, 17 April, in protest at the conditions endured by Palestinian prisoners held in Israel, including detention with neither charge nor trial. Around 1,000 prisoners are expected to take part in the protest led by Al-Barghouti, who was arrested in April 2002 and was sentenced to life imprisonment several times over, plus 40 years.
Al-Barghouti has previously sent a message to PA President Mahmoud Abbas asking him to "take measures towards liberating the Palestinian prisoners." He also called for PA institutions to support the hunger strike, as well as to mobilise popular support for it. The popular leader asked for the same support from Palestinians everywhere.
Although Marwan Al-Barghouti got the most votes in the movement's elections during Fatah's seventh conference last year, he was not chosen for any leadership role. He was elected as an MP on the Fatah list in 2006, while he was in prison, and is a favoured candidate to replace Abbas when he steps down as president.