Barghouti organized the hunger strike for better conditions for prisoners.
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From deep within an Israeli prison, Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti has once again thrust himself to the forefront of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. By organizing a mass hunger strike by hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, Barghouti has solidified his standing as a likely successor to President Mahmoud Abbas. He also has proved to Israel that, despite serving multiple life sentences, he cannot be ignored as the country marks 50 years of control over the Palestinian territories.Barghouti is the most prominent of the thousands of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, and even after 15 years behind bars, he continues to cast a long shadow over the region.Palestinian officials say Israel is holding some 6,500 "security prisoners" – people jailed for charges ranging from stone-throwing and membership in groups outlawed by Israel, to attacks that wounded or killed Israelis.Over the years, polls have indicated that Barghouti is the most popular choice among Palestinians to succeed Abbas, who has refused to groom a political heir.He also is seen as the only figure in Abbas' Fatah Movement who also enjoys support from Hamas, which seized control of the Gaza Strip from Abbas' forces a decade ago. Over the years, Israel has released a number of top security inmates in prisoner swaps and other agreements with the Palestinians.
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