Hunger-strike leader Barghouti says snacking video fake

Marwan Barghouti rejects authenticity of the video that Israel released, saying he will see his protest ‘to the end’.

Almost 1,500 prisoners launched a hunger strike on April 17, demanding better conditions [EPA]
Almost 1,500 prisoners launched a hunger strike on April 17, demanding better conditions [EPA]

Palestinian hunger-strike leader Marwan Barghouti has denied the authenticity of a video purportedly showing him eating secretly in his prison cell, his lawyer said.

Barghouti, along with 1,500 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, launched a hunger strike on April 17, demanding better conditions, including family visits.

Last week, Israeli authorities, in an apparent attempt to discredit Barghouti, released a video that they said showed the 58-year-old Barghouti having food.

Hamas warns Israel over prisoners’ demands as online support grows

On Sunday, his lawyer Khader Shkirat said he described the video to Barghouti who told him it’s not authentic.

According to Shkirat, Barghouti said the cell featured in the video, with a bunk bed, is much nicer and cleaner than the run-down cell where he is being held, which has a single bed, smelly blanket and no pillow.

“Marwan said that he does not know when these pictures were taken, and he considered publishing the video as blackmail and illegal action by the Israeli government,” Shkirat said before adding that Barghouti is preparing to see his protest “to the end” by refusing to drink water.

“I plan to escalate my hunger strike soon. I will stop drinking water,” Barghouti was quoted as saying. “There is no backtracking. We will continue until the end.”

Israel has alleged Barghouti, widely seen as a potential successor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, staged the strike to raise his political profile.

Barghouti is serving multiple life sentences after an Israeli court convicted him of directing attacks that killed five people during the second Palestinian uprising.

Barghouti, in prison since 2002, never mounted a defence, saying the court had no jurisdiction over him.

READ MORE: A timeline of Palestinian mass hunger strikes in Israel

He has been kept in isolation since the hunger strike began last month. His lawyer added that Barghouti has not been permitted to change his clothes, and that Israeli guards search his room four times a day.

In a rare statement last week, the International Committee of the Red Cross said it is Israel’s responsibility to ensure prisoners receive family visits.

Human rights groups say it is a violation of international law to move prisoners from occupied territories to detention centres in Israel, which also makes it more difficult for relatives to visit the inmates.

Israeli Prison Service spokesman Assaf Liberati said the video was authentic and was taken in Barghouti’s current cell.

Source: AP news agency

Global cyberattack alert as experts warn of more havoc

Experts warn firms to update security software, as Microsoft partly blames US government for massive ransomware attack.

Government offices, banks and hospitals around the world are bracing themselves for a possible repeat of Friday’s global cyber attack, while tech giant Microsoft pinned blame on the US government for not disclosing more software vulnerabilities.

Cyber security experts said the spread of the worm dubbed WannaCry – “ransomware” that locked up more than 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries – had slowed but that the respite might only be brief amid fears it could cause new havoc on Monday when employees return to work.

New versions of the worm are expected, they said, and the extent – and economic cost – of the damage from Friday’s attack were unclear.

Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre joined others in warning of more cases of “ransomware” attacks this week, predicting that the problem could be “at a significant scale” because some infected machines have not yet been detected, and existing infections can spread within networks.

The warning echoed that from Europe’s policing agency earlier on Sunday. Europol said that the malware attack was of an unprecedented level , and that the numbers were still increasing.

It is believed to be the biggest online extortion ever, hitting British hospitals, German rail and companies and government agencies.

Officials urged organisations and companies to immediately update their security software.

READ MORE: What is ransomware and how to avoid it

The malicious software used in the attack, which has the ability to automatically spread across large networks by exploiting a known bug in Microsoft’s Windows operating system, was stolen from the US National Security Agency.

Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer, criticised governments for “stockpiling” software code that can be used by hackers.

In a post on Microsoft’s blog, Smith wrote: “An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the US military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen.”

He added that governments should “report vulnerabilities” that they discover to software companies, “rather than stockpile, sell, or exploit them”.

The NSA and White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the Microsoft statement, Reuters news agency reported.

Speaking to Al Jazeera on Smith’s post, Larry Magid, a technology journalist and CEO of, said: “There is some speculation that this code was being stored in the NSA labs, potentially as a cyberweapon that the US might have used against its own adversaries. And that is a big concern because code, unlike physical weapons, is very difficult to protect.”

Magid added that there should be more cooperation to prevent future attacks: “There needs to be better sharing of information between government and the private sector, especially tech companies, and obviously people need to be educated.”

Meanwhile, an executive at a cybersecurity firm that helped block Friday’s attack said  that new variations of the malicious worm are circulating – and that researchers expect one to develop that cannot be stopped.

Ryan Kalember, senior vice president at Proofpoint Inc., said that millions of devices could be vulnerable if they have not applied security patches over the weekend.

He said if a new variant without a “kill switch” popped up, organisations would be on their own to prevent it from taking over their computers.

Proofpoint and a British cybersecurity researcher teamed up on Friday to derail the attack.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies


Israel dismisses US concern over Jerusalem embassy move

Prime Minister Netanyahu says embassy move to Jerusalem would be positive for peace process with the Palestinians.

Palestinians fiercely oppose a US embassy move to Jerusalem [Mohamad Torokman/Reuters]
Palestinians fiercely oppose a US embassy move to Jerusalem [Mohamad Torokman/Reuters]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has challenged US concerns over moving the American embassy to Jerusalem and said a move will help the peace process progress.

During his election campaign, US President Donald Trump promised to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, whose status is one of the thorniest issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Can US President Donald Trump bring peace to the Middle East?

“The transfer of the American Embassy to Jerusalem not only will not harm the peace process, but the opposite,” Netanyahu said in the statement on Sunday.

“It will advance it by correcting a historic injustice and by smashing the Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel.”

The statement from Netanyahu’s office came after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Trump is still assessing the impact of the potential move.

“The president is being very careful to understand how such a decision would impact the peace process,” Tillerson said.

He said Trump’s decision would be informed by feedback from all sides, including “whether Israel views it as helpful to a peace initiative or perhaps a distraction”.

The Palestinians and the Arab world fiercely oppose a move, and the international community has warned that it could spark fresh unrest.

Palestinians argued moving the embassy would prejudge one of the most sensitive issues in the conflict, undermining America’s status as an effective mediator.

Former US presidents have repeatedly waived a US law requiring the embassy be moved to Jerusalem.

The most recent waiver, signed by Barack Obama, expires on June 1. Trump is expected to sign a six-month renewal of the waiver, as he continues deliberating, before it expires.

READ MORE: How Israeli soldiers interrogated me

In another sign the White House is proceeding cautiously, Trump’s ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, plans to work out of the current embassy in Tel Aviv rather than out of the US Consulate in Jerusalem, as some had urged him to do.

Israel occupied the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 1967. It later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community.

In 1980, Israel declared “reunited” Jerusalem its capital in a move unrecognised by major states.

Source: News agencies

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