Jailed Palestinian leader put in solitary over letter: NGO

Jailed Palestinian leader put in solitary over letter: NGO

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories - Jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghuti has been placed in solitary confinement after publishing a letter calling for a return to "armed resistance" against Israel, a Palestinian NGO said on Wednesday.

The Ramallah-based Palestinian Prisoners' Club said in a statement that Barghuti had been placed in solitary as a "punishment" for a letter published on Tuesday on the 10th anniversary of the death of veteran Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

A spokesman for Israel Prisons Service confirmed Barghuti had been placed in solitary but said it was because he had given interviews to the press.

"Marwan Barghuti was sentenced yesterday to seven days of isolation and handed a fine for having given media interviews, which he is not allowed to do," he said.

In the letter, Barghuti said "choosing global and armed resistance" was being "faithful to Arafat's legacy, his ideas and his principles." He also urged the Palestinian leadership to "put an immediate end to security cooperation" with Israel.

The letter was published in an atmosphere of escalating violence as months of clashes in and around annexed east Jerusalem spread to Israel and the West Bank, and following a growing number of deadly Palestinian attacks by lone individuals.

Barghuti, who is widely believed to have masterminded the 2000-2005 second Palestinian intifada, wrote the letter from his cell in Hadarim prison where he is serving five life sentences for anti-Israeli attacks.

"Isolating Marwan Barghuti shows the confusion experienced by the Israeli police and security establishment," the Prisoners' Club said.

"It also proves that Yasser Arafat is still scaring them from his grave and Marwan from his cell." A senior figure within the Fatah movement of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, Barghuti was arrested in 2002 and sentenced two years later.

Since his conviction, Barghuti has since said he never supported attacks on civilians inside Israel and in recent years has thrown his support behind peaceful resistance.

He still wields huge influence from inside prison and is considered the only serious challenger to Abbas as president, with surveys regularly naming him as favourite to win elections should he be released from jail.

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