Palestinian Prisoners Day 17th AprilApril 12, 2018, midnight
This long overdue Israeli occupation has to end and the release of our prisoners should be the beginning of the end. Prof./Amb. Manuel Hassassian
Monday 17th April marks Palestinian Prisoners’ Day. Israel, as an occupying force, uses imprisonment as a means of control and domination of the Palestinians. It is one of the many and insidious mechanisms of collective punishment used in Israel’s brutal regime of occupation. Currently there are 6050 political prisoners in Israeli jails. In the last two months alone, the Israeli military abducted 1319 Palestinians in terrifying night raids on peoples’ homes. This includes 274 children, 23 women and 4 journalists.
Those whom they arrest are sentenced in closed military courts which contravene all international norms and no Palestinian is given a fair trial. 99% of Palestinians tried by in military courts are convicted. Many are not even given the benefit of such a show of a trial and are placed under administrative detention. There are currently 500 political prisoners under administrative detention in Israeli jails. This means that those arrested are held without charge on ‘secret information’ and can be held indefinitely because administrative detention can be renewed an unlimited number of times. This is prohibited under international law and is considered a punitive measure of intimidation. Israel, however, is no ordinary state and does not abide by the norms of the international community. It is an occupier and uses its full force and military advantage to subordinate the Palestinians to crush any form of resistance or dissent.
Neither does it have any misgivings about the maltreatment of Palestinian children and has detained 12,000 since the year 2000. There are currently 350 Palestinian prisoners in Israel jails who are sentenced by military courts. The most common charge is for taking part in demonstrations or throwing stones for which they can be sentenced for 20 years! There is no special protection in place for Palestinian child detainees who are arrested. They often receive ill treatment and are routinely beaten, kicked and violently shoved, as well as being verbally abused in what amounts to psychological torture. There are no special interrogation procedures either and no provision is made for a solicitor or even a family member to be present despite international committees recommending this. Neither are interrogations videoed as has been stipulated by international legal delegations. In fact, Israel contravenes 27 international conventions when it comes to child prisoners.
The case of Ahed Tamimi recently received some international attention. She has been sentenced to 8 months imprisonment for slapping and kicking an Israeli soldier who invaded her home.
The way Israel treats the most vulnerable of its captive population – its children, is a good litmus test of its values as a nation. It fails the test and it fails it miserably. Israel contravenes a host of humanitarian and human rights law in its treatment of the Palestinians and this is most visible when it comes to its treatment of Palestinian political prisoners. The international community, The United Kingdom included, should put pressure on the Israeli government to stop these illegal and inhuman practices against Palestinian prisoners and demand that Israel stops using imprisonment as a form of collective punishment against a people it is subjecting to an illegal and brutal occupation.