A Palestinian criminal who was leading an anti-Israel hunger strike from his prison cell has been filmed eating cookies.
Marwan Barghouti, a convicted murderer (and New York Times op-ed columnist) who took part in the violent “intifada” movements against the Israeli state, went on hunger strike in April to demand better treatment in prison.
About 1,500 other Palestinian prisoners joined him, according to the AFP news agency, prompting large amounts of sympathetic press coverage.
However, around 10 days into the strike Barghouti (pictured above, surrounded by guards after his conviction) was filmed inside his prison cell furtively removing a pack of cookies from a hiding place in his bathroom, then eating them while crouched over his toilet.
He took another snack eight days after that, prompting Israeli authorities to release the video to the media:
In a report on the video by Haaretz, Israeli prison sources admit that Barghouti was “set up”.
It is not clear what they mean by this – perhaps that Barghouti was given access to food, as there is no suggestion he was forced to eat.
Barghouti managed to gather significant publicity for his cause while on “hunger strike”.
He was given space to explain his protest on the op-ed pages of the New York Times.
The article was later amended when editors realized they had failed to mention that Barghouti had been convicted of five murders.
Barghouti’s lawyer dismissed the video as “part of the psychological and media war the Israel Prison Service is conducting against the prisoners”.
Hunger striking is in vogue once more among some political protesters.
Recently Heat Street reported on a hunger strike by graduate students at Yale, who want their union to be recognized by college authorities.
However, unlike most hunger strikes, this protest included a provision for demonstrators to give up when they get too hungry, to be replaced by allies who had eaten more recently.