On 17 April, the Palestinian people commemorate Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, to honor the nearly one million Palestinian men, women, and children Israel has detained since the beginning of the conflict. On this day, Palestinians honor those who have sacrificed their freedom and endured abuse, torture, and injustice so that their people may enjoy their fundamental right to freedom, dignity, and justice.
Today, 5,700 Palestinians, including 250 children, are held captive in Israeli prisons and detention centers, enduring deplorable conditions and subjected to systematic and grave human rights violations. In addition to live prisoners, Israel also detains the bodies and remains of nearly 400 Palestinians it has killed and keeps them in unmarked graves and morgues in an act of extreme cruelty and collective punishment against their loved ones.
Israel’s policy of mass incarceration aims to break the will of the Palestinian people and crush them into submission. Tried in sham military courts that fail the most basic tests of due process, Palestinians, including children as young as 12, face predetermined and certain conviction. Compounding this system of injustice is the prolific human rights abuses against Palestinian detainees, including the use of torture and other inhumane treatment.
In addition to the design, process, and intent of this multi-layered system of injustice and subjugation, Israel’s treatment of Palestinian detainees violates international law norms and standards, including its obligations as an occupying power under the Fourth Geneva Convention. This includes violations of Articles 81 and 98 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which oblige Israel to provide allowances to detainees and prohibit it from deducting any amount from their income or salary. Instead of honoring this obligation, Israel is punishing the Palestinian government for providing allowances to the families of Palestinian prisoners by pirating Palestinian tax revenues.
On this important occasion, we urge the international community to take action to compel Israel, the occupying Power, to cease these condemnable practices and to heed the calls for the release of Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israeli prisons and detention centers and for respect for their human rights. States have a standing legal and moral obligation to ensure that Israel cease its practice of mass incarceration, including the deplorable policy of arbitrary and administrative detention. Finally, the State of Palestine calls on all states to compel Israel to end its illegal piracy of Palestinian tax revenues immediately.