JERUSALEM, Israel – The New York Times apologized Monday for publishing an opinion piece by convicted terror leader Marwan Barghouti demonizing Israel and questioning its right to exist. Barghouti accuses Israel of being an apartheid state guilty of human rights abuses, including torture and medical negligence.
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said the decision to publish the propaganda "seriously undermines" the paper's credibility.
"Barghouti is not [an ordinary] prisoner," Arutz Sheva quoted Hotovely. "He is a convicted murderer and a terrorist."
"The New York Times has provided a platform to a terrorist without noting the fact that he planned and carried out the cold blooded murder of Jews simply for having been Jews," she said.
Barghouti, described by the Times as a "Palestinian leader and parliamentarian," is a convicted terrorist serving five consecutive life terms plus 40 years for masterminding suicide bombing missions during the second intifada (armed Palestinian uprising) that killed scores of Israelis. Barghouti himself was convicted of five murders.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said the strike is politically motivated and prisoners are treated well. Many receive monthly "salaries" from the Palestinian Authority, and Israel provides study opportunities for those who are interested.
Erdan ordered Barghouti placed in solitary confinement as some 1,000 prisoners began the open-ended hunger strike Sunday evening. He also ordered a field hospital set up outside the Ketziot Prison to keep convicts in need of medical attention out of civilian hospitals.
Erdan ordered the Israel Prison Service to do all they can to contain the strike within its walls and prevent any illegal communication between prisons and with other terrorists. He said Israel Police are ready to offer assistance as needed.
"These are terrorists and incarcerated murderers who are getting exactly what the international law requires," Erdan said in an interview with Israel's Army Radio.