Ref: 45/2012


Today, 17 April 2012, marks the Palestinian Prisoners Day, which
has been devoted by the Palestinian people to support the cause of Palestinian
prisoners detained in 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 of 17 April 1974.

 

This year, the Palestinian Prisoners Day comes at a time in which
the suffering of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails continues, as a result
of violations of their rights.  These
violations have recently peaked by the forcible transfer and deportation of
prisoners, the latest of which was the forcible transfer of a female prisoner,
Hanaa Shalabi, to the Gaza Strip on 01 April 2012.

 

These violations are part of a systematic policy adopted by Israeli
occupation authorities against Palestinian prisoners, subjecting them to cruel,
inhuman and degrading conditions, denying them access to medical care,
constituting medical negligence which has caused deaths; practicing methods of
torture against them; placing some of them in solitary confinement; depriving
them of family visitation; and banning them from receiving academic education,
according to a decision issued by the Israeli Prison Service on 20 July 2011.[1]

 

According to the figures and statistics PCHR possesses, more than
4,700 Palestinian prisoners are still held in Israeli prisons and detention
facilities, mostly inside Israel, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention,
particularly Article 76 which stipulates that “protected persons accused of
offences shall be detained in the occupied country, and if convicted they shall
serve their sentences therein.” The majority of the Palestinian prisoners are
from the West Bank, and they include 9 women and 190 children, as well as 320
prisoners who have been placed under administrative detention; the latter
category includes 27 Members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and former
ministers. 

 

PCHR expresses its utmost concern for the continued deprivation of
family visitation of at least 475 Palestinian prisoners from the Gaza Strip,
lasting more than five years now and causing deterioration to these prisoners’
psychological and health conditions in violation of international human rights
law.  At least 1,000 Palestinian
prisoners in a number of Israeli jails are expected to start an open ended hunger
strike to pressurize the Israeli Prison Service to heed to their demands,
including abolishing the policy of solitary confinement; ending the application
of the Shalit Law; stopping attacks against prisoners, providing prisoners with
adequate health care; and allowing family visitation to Gazan prisoners.  It is worth noting that at least 10 prisoners
have been on hunger strike in protest against the policy of administrative
detention. 

 

On the Palestinian Prisoners Day, PCHR draws the attention to
escalated violations of the rights of Palestinian prisoners and the
deterioration of their conditions because of Israel’s insistence to adopt a
series of measures against them, which violate human rights principles and the
international humanitarian law, which Israel, as a party to the relevant
treaties, must respect.  PCHR also draws
the attention to the international silence regarding such violations, which
proves suspicions towards the international community’s disregard of international
humanitarian law.   

 

Since its establishment, PCHR has systematically and continually
followed up the cases of thousands of prisoners in Israeli jails.  PCHR
has provided legal aid to prisoners and their families, and has documented and
reported on violations of their rights. 
In this context:

 

1. PCHR calls
upon the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill
their obligations under the Convention;

2. PCHR calls
upon international human rights organizations to follow up cases of Palestinian
prisoners and request their governments to exert pressure on Israel to stop its
illegal practices against Palestinian prisoners and release them;

3. PCHR calls
upon the European Union to activate Article 2 of the EU-Israel Association
Agreement, which provides that both sides must respect human rights as a
precondition for economic cooperation between the EU states and Israel. 

————–

[1] See “PCHR Condemns Punitive Measures against Palestinian Prisoners in
Israeli Jails,” Press Release, Ref: 70/2011, PCHR, 21 July 2011.