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Hunger-Strike Leader Barghouti Sneaks A Meal

"Once again we see that in Palestinian society, the corrupt leaders send the ordinary people to fight to the death, while they themselves take special privileges," Prison Service spokesman Ofer Lefler said.
First Publish: 8/19/2004, 3:15 PM / Last Update: 8/18/2004, 4:17 PM

The terrorists' hunger strike continues for its fourth day - although some leading terrorists feel that they need not starve as "intensively" as their underlings. Marwan Barghouti, head of the Tanzim terrorist group who considers himself a potential candidate to succeed Yasser Arafat, was photographed yesterday sneaking a well-balanced meal in his prison cell, while his fellow terrorists have not had a bite since Saturday night.

Israel Prison Service officials, who are closely monitoring the strike to ensure that no one collapses or dies, say that Barghouti is not alone, and that at least ten other top terrorists - leaders of the hunger strike - have taken advantage of their solitary confinement to grab a quick bite.

"Once again we see that in Palestinian society, the corrupt leaders send the ordinary people to fight to the death, while they themselves take special privileges," Prison Service spokesman Ofer Lefler said.

Yasser Arafat, in a special speech today, praised the striking terrorists. Noting that Public Security Minister Tzachi HaNegbi had said that they could starve to death for all he cares, Arafat said, "We are not afraid of shihada [martyrdom]."

Barghouti was among the organizers of the hunger strike. Prison Service officials said they brought him a full meal yesterday and left it at the opening to his cell. They saw him pull it in, then cover the windows with newspaper, and begin to eat - while looking around to make sure that no one was looking. Prison Service officials were able to photograph him, however, noting also that they later gathered his empty utensils.

The terrorists being held in IDF installations - as opposed to civilian prisons - joined the hunger strike for one day today, and Arab residents in Judea and Samaria held a day of solidarity with the striking terrorists. The latter demand privileges such as computers in their cells, cellular phones, and no glass partition during visits. Many past terror attacks have been arranged from prison using cell phones and the passing of messages to visitors.