On Monday, 25 December 2017, a group of extremists led by Oren Hazan, Member of Israeli Knesset of the Right-Wing Likud Party, boarded a bus coming from the Gaza Strip and carrying Palestinian prisoners’ families. The families were on their way to visit their sons in Ramon Prison. Videos published on Social Media showed the extremist Oren Hazan verbally assaulted a prisoner’s mother saying:” Your son is an “insect” and a “dog” and you will not be able to visit him again, except under the ground.”
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns this assault and holds the Israeli authorities fully responsible for it, especially that this assault was committed under the Israeli forces’ protection. The Israeli forces were supposed to provide protection for the prisoners’ ‘families, not the aggressor, but they allowed the Israeli extremist Lawmaker to take the cameras and photograph his assault on the prisoners’ families in a humiliating manner.
This assault confirms the involvement of the Israeli official authorities in this assault because they had a prior knowledge of the Israeli right-wing parties’ intention to boarding the bus of the prisoners’ families from the Gaza Strip. Moreover, this assault amounts to inhuman and degrading treatment that is criminalized under the international Convention against Torture.
PCHR warns of the serious repercussions of repeating such assaults against the prisoners’ families, whereas the majority of them is elderlies, children and women. PCHR also holds the Israeli authorities and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) full responsibility for the lives of the prisoners’ families and maintaining their dignity, in accordance with their obligations under the Geneva Conventions.
The Israeli Right-Wing Organizations have previously announced their intention to obstruct buses from the Gaza Strip carrying the prisoners’ mothers and children in the Israeli jails as a preamble to prevent these visits within a campaign called “Campaign for releasing prisoners and missing persons in Israel”. This campaign refers to the Israeli soldiers alleged to be detained by the Palestinian armed groups in Gaza.
In response to the incident, ICRC confirmed that it seriously considers what happened and contacted with the concerned parties. The spokesperson of the ICRC in Gaza City said in a statement: “Families have the right to visit their loved ones in a dignified manner without interference”. She added that:” The ICRC is a human organization that facilitates the visits’ program in favor of the prisoners’ families.”, but It is the responsibility of the competent authorities to ensure that the visits take place safely and without interference.
PCHR welcomes the ICRC’s statement, but considers it not enough. PCHR believes that ICRC should have immediately intervened once it has known about the intention of the extremist organizations, rather than waiting for the incident to happen for being the responsible party of the coordination in order to properly provide the visits.
PCHR also stresses that this assault is a crime of inhuman and degrading treatment. PCHR believes that this assault is not only for the prisoners’ families, but also a blatant assault of the ICRC, its immunity and prestigious in front of the media.
Moreover, PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties of the Fourth 1949 Geneva Convention to immediately intervene to ensure Israel’s respect for the Convention.
PCHR also calls upon the ICRC to seriously work to facilitate the visits of the prisoners’ families in a manner that preserves their dignity, properly coordinate with the Israeli authorities to prevent repeating such assaults, and take the necessary measures in case the Israeli authorities failed to fulfill its obligations.