Public Security Minister: 'Barghouti fell for the trap set up by the IPS'
After two days of speculation, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan publicly admits that the Israel Prison Services waited to record Barghouti eating snacks during an ongoing hunger strike he is leading with full knowledge that he was smuggling food into his cell; ‘ He simply fell for the trap set up by the IPS,’ says Erdan.
A day after Marwan Barghouti was caught breaking his hunger strike in secret, Minister of Public Security, Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan said that the Israel Prison Service (IPS) was aware that Barghouti was smuggling food into his cell and turned a blind eye in order to catch him in the act.
The IPS plans to catch Barghouti red-handed were not based on mere hope, since the exact same thing happened in a 2004 security prisoners strike which was led—yet again—by Barghouti, where the convicted terrorist was caught eating food in secret.
Barghouti was caught on tape twice, eating cookies, snacks and salt to help alleviate his hunger. It is assumed that he did so in the bathroom of his cell believing that he wouldn't be filmed there.
The IPS made sure to show the other prisoners their recordings, but so far it has failed to deter them. Today, 894 of them enter the 23rd day of the hunger strike.
"We, the Palestinian people, have high trust in Marwan, and we don't listen to the Israeli allegations," said activist Abdullah Abu Rahmed. "Marwan will lead the strike until it accomplishes its goals."
Some officials in the government supported the IPS's efforts in ending the strike, with Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman saying sardonically during a Yisrael Beytenu party meeting on Monday: "bon appétit."
Erdan praised the intelligence work of the IPS and after hearing that Barghouti's wife claimed that the video is fake, he chuckled and said that "the recordings speak for themselves. He (Barghouti) and his family just keep lying. He simply fell for the trap set up by the IPS.
"We're going to make sure that the prisoners see the videos and understand who he really is. The strike he is leading has nothing to do with their prison conditions, and everything to do with the political interests of Marwan Barghouti."
Some, though, did not seem so amused. MK Ayman Odeh (Joint List) said "I don't understand what Erdan's whole celebration is about. To film a prisoner in the bathroom like that?"
Most MK's and ministers, though, refused to comment.
With that, and despite claims by the Barghouti family and his staunch supporters that the videos are fake, many Palestinians do feel angry and disappointed over the footage.
A senior official in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) told Yedioth Ahronoth that "whoever you ask will tell you on record that the video is fake, but behind closed doors people are admitting that it's authentic.
"We were incredibly angry when we saw the recordings. There are mothers of prisoners who are on hunger strike as a show of solidarity with their sons, and suddenly they see that the great leader of the strike is eating in secret while they starve. He made a very big mistake."
(Translated & edited by Lior Mor)