17 April 2016 marks the Palestinian Prisoner’s Day, which has been devoted by the Palestinian people to locally and internationally support the cause of Palestinian
prisoners in the Israeli jails. Since 1979, Palestinians have commemorated this day, which marks the anniversary of the release of Palestinian prisoners in the first prisoner swap deal on 17 April 1974.
This year, the Palestinian Prisoners Day comes at a time in which the suffering of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails is aggravating due to the Israeli escalating violations and punitive measures imposed on over 7000 prisoners detained in the Israeli prisons and detention facilities.
Those prisoners have experienced cruel and inhuman detention conditions, including torture and degrading treatment.
This degrading treatment includes denying family visits and education, naked searches, night raids, solitary confinement and medical negligence.
Those prisoners are detained in more than 20 prisons and detention facilities, the majority of which are located inside Israel in a flagrant violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which stipulates that “protected persons accused of
offences shall be detained in the occupied country, and if convicted they shall
serve their sentences therein.”
Among those prisoners are 370 prisoners form the Gaza Strip and the rest of them are form the West Bank, including Jerusalem, and Palestinian community inside the Green Line.
Israeli occupation authorities continue to detain about 700 administrative detainees in the Israeli prisons and detention facilities, including 2 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) in a clear violation of their right to fair trial and right to receive adequate defense and be informed of the charges against them.
The violation of the right to fair trial is part of the administrative detention policy implemented upon an administrative not a court ruling in a way that violates the fair judicial procedure.
Hunger strike was a step that has been lately taken by dozens of Palestinian prisoners in protest against the inhuman detention conditions, including placing them under administrative detention without trial as a punitive measure.
Therefore, the Israeli authorities started the application of force-feeding against hunger strikers. On 30 July 2015, the Israeli Knesset approved in the second and third reading the amendment to the so-called “Law to Prevent Harm of Hunger Strike”.
On 12 January 2016, Israeli forces force-fed Journalist Mohammed al-Qeeq, who had been on hunger strike for about 50 days.
The Israeli authorities continue applying the policy of medical negligence against Palestinian prisoners.
The Israeli Prison Service delay offering even the minimum levels of medical treatment for hundreds of imprisoned patients, due to which their health conditions deteriorate leading sometimes to death.
Among dozens of patients imprisoned in the Israeli jails, including hundreds suffering from chronic and serious diseases, 20 are permanently staying in al-Ramleh Prison’s Hospital. These 20 patients suffer from physical disabilities, paralysis, cardiac problems and tumors.
This policy resulted in the death of the prisoner Fadi al-Darbi (30), form Jenin, in October 2015, as he suffered from a severe brain hemorrhage at Soroka Hospital in Beersheba City inside Israel.
This happened few days after he was transferred from Ramon Prison in Israel. It should be noted that al-Darbi served 10 year of imprisonment out of 14.
PCHR’s numbers and statistics indicate that there is a significant increase in the arrests against Palestinians.
Last year, Israeli forces arrested 3935 Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), i.e. 11 Palestinians daily. Of those arrested were 791 children, most of whom were arrested following the protests that started in October 2015.
The total number of prisoners included 3751 from the West Bank; most of whom were arrested in the last quarter of the year.
Meanwhile, 184 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip were arrested over the year during attempts to sneak via the border fence to work in Israel or while Palestinians traveling via Beit Hanoun “Erez” crossing, including patients, students and businessmen, or even while fishing in the Gaza Strip Sea.
Israeli forces prosecuted and arrested human rights activists and defenders on grounds of their political and peaceful struggle.
On 06 December 2015, the Israeli Ofer Military Court sentenced PLC Member Khalidah Jarrar (52) to 15 months in jail, suspended sentence of 12 months within a five-year period and imposed NIS 10,000 as a fine.
Moreover, the Military Court accused Jarrar of being member in an outlaw movement and incitement against Israel in addition to participating in activities against Israel. Lawyer Mohammed al-Khateeb, an activist in the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlement Activities, was arrested on grounds of participating in a peaceful demonstration in Bil’in village in protest against the annexation wall, but was bailed out on 16 November 2015 at NIS 500 on condition that he appears before the court later.
Israeli forces continue to arrest five PLC Members, including Marwan al-Barghuthi representing Fatah Parliamentary bloc who was arrested in 2002; Ahmed Sa’adat, representing the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) who was arrested in 2006 serving a 30-year imprisonment; and administrative detainee Jamal al-Natcheh, representing Hamas Parliamentary bloc.
In 2015, Israeli forces arrested PLC Member Khaledah Jarrar, from her house on 02 April 2015. On 20 October, Hasan Yousif, PLC Member representing Hamas bloc, was arrested from his house in Ramallah.
On the Palestinian Prisoner Day, PCHR draws attention to the escalation of violations committed against Palestinian prisoners and deterioration of their detention conditions in light of Israel’s stubbornness to adopt measures that violate the international humanitarian law and human rights standards, by which Israel is legally bound.
PCHR also sheds light on the international community’s silence towards these violations, confirming the international community’s disregard for the international humanitarian law.
In light of this, PCHR calls upon:
1. The High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations;
2. The international human rights organizations to follow up Palestinian prisoners’ cause and rally international support to pressurize Israel to stop all its arbitrary practices against the Palestinian prisoners;
3. European countries to activate Article 2 of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which provides that Israel should respect human rights as a precondition for economic cooperation between the EU states and Israel;
4. Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment to open investigation into the death of Fadi al-Derby that proves the prevalence of medical negligence in the Israeli prisons.
5. Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 to follow up the death of Fadi al-Derby and submit a report on this to the UN; and
6. The UN bodies, International Committee of the Red Cross and international community to pressurize Israel to improve the detention conditions of the Palestinian prisoners, stop torture and open prisons to observers until prisoners are released.