A Day of Solidarity with Palestinian Prisoners Palestinian Prisoners' Day 17th April 2016April 15, 2016, midnight
"The incarceration and torture of political prisoners is an outright breach of International Humanitarian Law. Israel acts with impunity and acts above the law supported by so-called western democracies. This charade should stop once and for all."
This Sunday, 17th April marks Palestinian Prisoners' Day which is an international day of solidarity with all those Palestinians who are victims of Israel’s mass arrest and incarceration policies.
Currently there are 7,000 political prisoners in Israeli jails, mostly activists for human rights and they include university students, journalists, lawyers and any Palestinian that has attempted to resist Israeli occupation by throwing a stone or a Facebook post.
Since 1967, it has been estimated that Israel has held 800,000 Palestinian prisoners, approximately a fifth of the Palestinian population with 10,000 of these have been women. There are presently 60 female prisoners in Israeli jails.
Lena Al-Jarboni the longest serving female political prisoner
Since 2000, 12,000 Palestinian children have been detained. Currently there are 406 children in Israeli prisons, the youngest is only twelve years old. 700 children under the age of 18 are prosecuted every year in Israeli military courts with the most common charge being stone-throwing which is punishable, under military law, by a prison sentence of up to 20 years. Attorneys or family members are not present at the interrogation of children.
As this goes to print there are 670 prisoners held under administrative detention. This means detainees are held without charge or trial on ‘secret information’ and can be held indefinitely as administrative detention can be renewed an unlimited number of times. Systematic use of administrative detention is prohibited under international law and is a punitive measure which amounts to collective punishment. If detainees are put on trial they usual have to face military courts which convict 99% of Palestinians who are brought before them.
Human rights groups have documented many cases where Palestinian prisoners and administrative detainees, including women and children are subjected to mistreatment, physical and psychological torture. All suffer from inadequate healthcare and education and, in many cases, deprived access to family visits especially as prisons are not in the occupied Palestinian territories and family members need permits to cross into Israel which they are usually denied.
Since October’s popular uprising against Israeli occupation which has seen an escalation of house demolitions, land confiscation and near daily killings of Palestinians, Israel has ramped up its arbitrary arrests. Soldiers conduct violent armed raids in the dead of the night in Palestinian cities and villages, ransacking homes and arresting dozens of young Palestinians on baseless grounds.
This mass incarceration of Palestinians is part and parcel of the ongoing violent occupation which violates basic human rights and contravenes international law. Showing solidarity with Palestinian prisoners will help hold Israel accountable for its human rights abuses and its violent ongoing occupation which tearing the fabric of Palestinian life apart.
Title image: Banksy work in the occupied West Bank near Bethlehem
Media Brief on Palestinian Child Prisoners from the Negotiation Affairs Department: