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Palestinian hunger strike

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Maher Al-Akhras, a Palestinian man of 49 who has been detained repeatedly by Israel, is today in Day 78 of a hunger strike that has brought him close to death. Arrested in July without charges and held at an Israeli hospital since September, the West Bank man has refused an offer to be released next month, demanding his release now in the name of all Palestinian detainees.

Saturday, after 41 days, the Palestinian prisoner hunger strike came to what seemed to be an end. Issa Qaraqe, director of the Palestinian Prisoners Affairs Commission, declared “80 percent of the demands” of the prisoners were achieved, calling it “an important achievement to build on in the future on the basis of the protection of the prisoners’ rights and dignity.” Israeli Public Security and Hasbara (propaganda) Minister Gilad Erdan countered claims that certain demands were met, saying that “there is absolutely no pledge to grant” any of the other prisoner demands, and said it “appears that this strike failed”. Jonathan Ofir says, “This should be a major source of concern, since it is the Israelis who are the jailer. If they are claiming this essentially did not happen, then there could be a real chance that they would ignore the reported agreements.”

The mockery campaign against Marwan Barghouti and the hunger strikers has brought Israeli political culture to a new depth of dehumanization. Pizza Hut ran a mock campaign on its Facebook page yesterday, using a still caption of Barghouti on the toilet, with a banner saying “Barghouti, if you’re going to break a strike, isn’t pizza better?” – the meme added a pizza box on the floor