PM: The Israeli Occupation Has Transformed our Homeland into a Large Prison

PNN/Ramallah

Today, April 17, 2016, Palestinians around the world commemorate Prisoner’s Day in solidarity with the thousands of Palestinian prisoners and detainees, including women and minors, held in Israeli prisons; many of them have been subjected to torture.

Prime Minister Hamdallah renewed his support to Palestinian prisoners and their families, urging the international community to protect the human rights of Palestinian prisoners and detainees, especially the children who are subject to psychological and physical harm .

“The Israeli Occupation has transformed our homeland into a large prison,” Hamdallah said. “Israel’s policies of detention and imprisonment violate all international legal standards, and are intended to obstruct the daily lives of Palestinians, in order to oppress an entire population,” the Prime Minister added.

Since 1967, Israel has detained and imprisoned close to one million Palestinians.

As of February 2016, there are 7,000 Palestinian political prisoners languishing in Israeli jails, including 69 women and more than 400 minors.

Many of the prisoners are being held in jails located inside Israel, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids the transfer of detainees outside the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Article 76 states that “all protected persons accused of an offense must be detained within the occupied country and if they are sentenced, they have to serve the sentence within it.”

Palestinian children are the most vulnerable detainees and are exposed to long interrogation sessions that can last for a period of up to 90 days, according to the Palestinian prisoner rights group Addameer.

During this time, interrogators use physical violence, threats of death, solitary confinement and sexual assault in order to extract confessions. Palestinian minor prisoners are usually interrogated without the presence of a parent or a lawyer, and are forced to sign ‘confessions’ in Hebrew, a language that most of them don’t speak.

Over the last 5 years, Israel has intensified its policy of arresting Palestinian children. In the last three months of 2015, Israel detained 1,500 minors.