Israel punishes Palestinian inmate for uprising call
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel has placed a high-profile Palestinian prisoner in solitary confinement for a week after he called from his cell for a new wave of civil resistance, the Prisons Authority said on Monday.
Marwan Barghouti, sentenced to life imprisonment in 2004 after being convicted of multiple lethal attacks against Israelis, is seen by many Palestinians as a possible future leader and was a driving force in the uprising they launched in 2000.
Last week, he said in a statement that "the launch of large-scale popular resistance at this stage serves the cause of our people". He also said the prospect of ending Israeli occupation and achieving a state through negotiations was an illusion.
Prisons Authority spokeswoman Sivan Weizman said that as punishment for issuing the statement, Barghouti "has been placed in isolation for a week and denied visits and access to the inmates' canteen for a month".
From prison, Barghouti's views continue to resonate with the Palestinian public. The 52-year-old leading member of Fatah enjoys support beyond his movement and across the spectrum of Palestinian factions.
Observers have speculated that Israel might at some point release Barghouti to strengthen the hold of the more secular Fatah movement on the Palestinian political scene and stem the popularity of Islamist Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.
(Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Alessandra Rizzo)