Barghouti's strike part of long road

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The Palestinian detainees, led by jailed terrorist Marwan Barghouti, launched the hunger strike on Monday to press for demands such as better medical services and access to telephones.

All Palestinian political prisoners - regardless of their alleged political affiliations or charges - are entitled to fair trial guarantees under worldwide humanitarian law and global human rights laws.

Qaddura Fares, head of the Palestinian Prisoners' Club which tracks the well-being of Palestinians in Israeli jails, said Barghouti had been placed in solitary confinement, but Librati did not confirm that.

Approximately 1 100 prisoners in different facilities had declared their intention to strike, said Israel Prison Service spokeswoman Hana Herbst, adding that the service was taking disciplinary measures.

Two leading Israeli human rights groups describe the conditions in prisons such as Shikma Prison in southern Israel as "hellish", with some inmates reportedly shackled to chairs during interrogation and held in solitary confinement in cramped and foul smelling cells no more than two metres long.

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"These are terrorists and incarcerated murderers who are getting exactly what the worldwide law requires", he told Israel's Army Radio, adding that under the ministry's policy, "you can't negotiate with prisoners such as these".

Speaking on Israel's Army Radio, Barghouti's lawyer, Elias Sabbagh, said the plan to launch a hunger strike had been discussed among prisoners for more than a year.

Some 6,500 Palestinians are now detained by Israel for a range of offenses and alleged crimes.

Nearly 6,500 Palestinians are being held in 22 Israeli prisons, said Qadoura Fares, head of the Palestinian Prisoners' Club that advocates on behalf of the inmates.

Others are detained under so-called Administrative Detention, which allows suspects to be held without charge for six-month intervals. Recent polls have shown the popular Fatah figure could win an election for the Palestinian presidency.

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"We will not surrender to it", he wrote.

He said Israel has established field hospitals outside the prisons to respond to any immediate medical needs.

Michael Oren, an Israeli parliamentarian and former ambassador to the United States, said that the New York Times had committed a "journalistic terrorist attack" in publishing an op-ed by imprisoned Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti.

Palestinian officials and activists put the number of hunger strikers at 1,300 and 1,500, respectively, saying it is hard to get updates from inside the prisons.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu castigated The New York Times for publishing an opinion article about the strike by Barghouti without identifying him as a convicted terrorist.

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