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New York Times 'clarifies' glorification of terrorist mastermind

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The New York Times offered a tepid response Monday evening to an uproar sparked by the publication of an opinion piece by an arch-terrorist responsible for multiple suicide bombings against Israelis, and the whitewashing of the terrorist’s criminal past, reported Arutz Sheva (Israel).

On Sunday The New York Times published a propaganda piece by Fatah terrorist Marwan Barghouti justifying a hunger strike by jailed terrorists.

In publishing the piece, the Times gave the convicted murderer Barghouti a free hand to spread canards against the Jewish state, justify terrorist activity targeting Israeli Jews, and delegitimize the very existence of Israel.

Like many anti-Israel screeds, Barghouti’s NYT piece describes Israel as a “colonial” power, comparing the Jewish state to apartheid-ridden South Africa and accusing it of various human rights abuses.

Amazingly, however, the Times initially published the piece with no reference to Barghouti’s crimes or his membership in a terrorist organization – a stunning omission given that the focus of the article is his imprisonment.
Instead, the Times described Barghouti as “a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian”.

Nowhere did the Times acknowledge Barghouti’s role as a senior member of the Fatah Tanzim terror group, nor his involvement in multiple shooting and suicide bombing attacks which left 26 people dead during the Second Intifada.

While Barghouti portrays his imprisonment as an “arbitrary arrest”, calling himself a “victim of Israel’s illegal” justice system, he in fact is serving five life sentences following a 2004 conviction including five counts of murder for terror attacks he directed in 2001 and 2002.

The decision to publish Barghouti’s piece and the failure to reference his crimes drew heavy criticism from Israeli officials.

"This is not a matter of freedom of speech,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely. “It is anarchy. When a major newspaper with a reputation for responsible journalism becomes a platform for murderers, it provides legitimacy for terrorism. This is a very disappointing decision by the editors which seriously undermines the credibility of The New York Times."

In response, the Times, rather than retract the piece, merely added an Editors’ Note on Monday, acknowledging that no mention had been made of Barghouti’s conviction.

“This article explained the writer’s prison sentence but neglected to provide sufficient context by stating the offenses of which he was convicted. They were five counts of murder and membership in a terrorist organization. Mr. Barghouti declined to offer a defense at his trial and refused to recognize the Israeli court’s jurisdiction and legitimacy.”


Israel's decades-long policy of detaining Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza inside Israeli jails, and depriving them of family visits, is "cruel" and a violation of international law, Amnesty International has said, reported The New Arab (UK).

There are currently 6,500 Palestinian prisoners, including at least 300 children, detained in Israeli-run prisons and detention facilities. Most are being held on security-related grounds and are considered political prisoners by Palestinians.

"Israel's ruthless policy of holding Palestinian prisoners arrested in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in prisons inside Israel is a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention," Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, said.

"Israeli authorities must stop imposing excessive restrictions on visitation rights as a means of punishing prisoners and their families, and ensure that conditions fully meet international standards."

The comments from Amnesty International come as Palestinian prisoners prepare for a mass hunger strike next week to mark Palestinian Prisoner's Day on April 17. The hunger strike was announced by imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi, long touted as the people's choice to succeed Mahmoud Abbas as president.

A number of Palestinian political parties have announced they will join the hunger strike, which will demand an end to Israeli restrictions on visits and contact with family members. There are currently thirteen members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, the Palestinian parliament, being detained in Israeli jails.

Since Israel's occupation in 1967 around 700,000 Palestinians have been jailed, around 40 percent of the male population, according to rights group Addameer. As such, every family in the occupied territories knows someone who has been arrested, and prisoners are considered national heroes for sacrificing themselves for the Palestinian struggle.

Palestinian prisoners are often deprived of family visits for months, and at times, years on end. Under international humanitarian law, detainees from an occupied territory must be held in the occupied territory, not in the territory of the occupying power. They must also be granted family visits.

Of the 6,500 prisoners, at least 500 are being held under administrative detention - without trial or charge - a policy dating back to the British Mandate. Detainees held under this policy are not informed about the reason for their arrest.

'They are punishing us; they are trying to break us'
One prisoner held in administrative detention, Ahmed, told Amnesty that he was joining the hunger strike to pressure authorities to grant a permit for his elderly mother to visit him. He has only received one family visit despite spending five-and-a-half years in Israeli jails.

"No one can visit me, my mother is in her seventies and she is denied a permit for security reasons…I don't know when I will be released or how long I will be in prison for, I want to be able to see my family," he said.

"The Israeli authorities are using the permits to punish me... I don't know how long [my mother] has [left] and if I will be able to see her if or when I am released."

In line with Israeli Prison Service Regulations, prisoners are entitled to family visits once every two weeks. But because Palestinians in the occupied territories require Israeli-issued visas, this rarely happens.

For the families of prisoners from Gaza, it is especially difficult. There are around 365 Gazans currently detained in Israeli jails. Najat al-Agha, 67, from Khan Younis in Gaza, has routinely had her permit requests denied. Her son is being held in an Israeli jail in Israel's Negev desert.

They try to break us to tire us, so that we would want to visit our relatives less because of all the humiliation, searches, abuse and insults by soldiers or prison guards
"I don’t know why I get rejected. I am 67-years-old. What security threat am I to Israel? All I want is to see him and make sure he is well. I don’t know how long I will live; any visit can be my last. I am scared of dying without seeing him," she told Amnesty.

Since 1969, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been responsible for facilitating family visits for prisoners' relatives from the West Bank and Gaza, without any financial or logistical assistance from Israel. Relatives apply through the ICRC for permits and rely on the international body for transportation.

For West Bank residents visiting jailed relatives, the short journey can be a gruelling experience. Travelling to Israeli jails can take between eight to 15 hours depending on the location, with relatives subjected to body and strip searches, prisoners' rights group Addameer says.

Reham (not her real name) told Amnesty that the uncertainty of waiting for a visitors permit to visit her brother places a severe strain on the family. Since October 2016 she has been denied regular permits on security grounds. When their mother passed away, her brother was not allowed to attend the funeral.

"The Israeli authorities play with our emotions, they torture us and punish us," Reham told Amnesty.
"They try to break us to tire us, so that we would want to visit our relatives less because of all the humiliation, searches, abuse and insults by soldiers or prison guards."

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