Skip to main content

War on Gaza: Israel 'endangering’ Marwan Barghouti’s life in prison

Barghouti, one of the most prominent Palestinian political prisoners, is being isolated and tortured, a senior Palestinian official says
Israeli security officers walk next to a mural depicting jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghuti, at the Israeli Qalandiya checkpoint, between Jerusalem and Ramallah in July 2014 (AFP)

Marwan Barghouti, one of the most prominent Palestinian political prisoners, is reportedly being subject to isolation and tortured in an Israeli prison, a senior Palestinian official said.

Hussein al-Sheikh, the secretary-general of the PLO executive committee, on Monday accused Israeli authorities of endangering Barghouti’s life in prison. 

Sheikh wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that Barghouti was being exposed to "isolation, torture and attempts to coerce, humiliate and beat him, putting his life in danger". 

Barghouti, 64, has reportedly been beaten by Israeli prison guards in recent days, according to Qadura Fares, the head of the Palestinian Commission for Detainees and Ex-Prisoners’ Affairs. 

Fares said the targeting of Barghouti is part of a campaign of repression against Palestinian prisoners that has escalated since the start of the month of Ramadan.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


Punitive measures include "severe beatings, insults, humiliation and confiscation of the Quran from cells". 

"The situation has become more dangerous than anyone could imagine, as the lives of the prisoners have become threatened in the true sense," Fares said. 

He added that another high-profile prisoner facing increased attacks recently is Thabet Merdawi, an Islamic Jihad leader who has been in jail since 2002.

"We call on the international community, institutions and international organisations to intervene immediately and urgently in order to stop the repressive measures against our prisoners and our leaders in the occupation prisons, protect them, and release them immediately," Sheikh said. 

Solitary confinement 

Barghouti, 64, has been in prison for over two decades, despite growing calls for his release over the years. 

Last month, Israel’s far-right Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir said that Barghouti had been placed in solitary confinement.

"I’m glad that the Israel Security Service is implementing my very clear policy towards terrorists in prisons and today transferred the murderer Marwan Barghouti from Ofer prison to isolation following information about a planned uprising," he said on X.

The reports of the prison assault come amid a renewed push by mediators to find an agreement between Israel and Hamas to end the war on Gaza and swap prisoners, which could potentially include the release of Barghouti. 

Barghouti was a prominent leader in the first and second Intifada, making him one of the most high-profile prisoners in Israeli detention

Israel accused Barghouti of having founded the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades in the early 2000s and indicted him on 26 charges of murder and attempted murder attributed to the group. 

Barghouti remains a popular Palestinian figure, particularly after offering no defence in the courts and refusing to recognise the authority of the Israeli court. 

According to opinion polls since his imprisonment, he remains the favourite presidential candidate for the Palestinian people.

A survey carried out in December showed him to be ahead of the current leader Mahmoud Abbas, who has been in office as president of the Palestinian Authority for almost 20 years and cancelled planned elections in April 2021. 

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.