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Palestinian hunger strikers reject 'fake footage' of leader eating

Representatives say footage from Israeli prison service are 'fabrications and theatrics' designed to sow confusion among Palestinians
The Israeli prison service said its video shows Marwan Barghouti eating in his cell (screengrab)

Representatives of the Palestinian hunger strikers have dismissed as "false rumours" video footage allegedly showing their leader Marwan Barghouti eating in his cell, saying it was an Israeli attempt at "psychological warfare".

The video, released on Israeli media on Sunday evening, allegedly shows Barghouti eating snacks in his cell toilet while leading a hunger strike to gain Palestinian prisoners basic rights.

The National Committee for the Freedom and Dignity Strike, however, said the footage dated back to 2004, and that its release was a deliberate attempt to confuse the campaign by about 1,500 prisoners, which began on 17 April.

Israel is 'waging a serious war of lies and misleading information to create a state of confusion'

- the National Committee for the Freedom and Dignity Strike

In two separate videos, a man is shown eating snacks in his cell. His face is not clearly visible, and the videos do not show a timestamp.

The committee did not specify whether it thought the videos showed a younger Barghouti, or a different man or men entirely. But, they said, Barghouti's hairline is currently much further back than the man in one of the videos.

The men in the two videos have different statures, the committee added.

According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the Israeli prison service admitted to setting Barghouti up, in an attempt to see if he would break his hunger strike.

The committee said the decision to share the footage was evidence that Israel was "waging a serious war of lies and misleading information to create a state of confusion in the Palestinian public and among hunger striking prisoners".

"A visual analysis of Israel's Channel 2 report debunks Israel's baseless claims that Marwan Barghouti is shown eating in his cell," it said.

"The utter baselessness of the report becomes clear. The fabrications and theatrics demonstrate Israel's utter failure to break the iron will and steadfastness of the growing hunger strike movement."

Speaking to Haaretz, Barghouti's lawyer said that the release of the video on Sunday night was "expected as part of the psychological and media war the Israel prison service is conducting against the prisoners".

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Elias Sabbagh added that he would not address the content of the clip until he was allowed to meet with his client, and check the claims with him directly.  

About 1,500 Palestinian prisoners are thought to be taking part in the open-ended strike, which is seeking to end the arbitrary detention of Palestinians, among other demands.

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