The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) is strongly concerned over the life of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, who have started a hunger strike for 10 days in the Israeli jails in protest against the deterioration of their living conditions and deprivation of their most basic human rights. PCHR emphasizes that Israeli forces should be fully held responsible for the deterioration of prisoners’ conditions in light of the stubbornness of the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) to meet their humane demands, which the Service confront by escalating measures against the prisoners. Those arbitrary measures included prisoners’ transferals between prisons to break their will and pressurize them to end their strike. PCHR calls upon the international community to pressurize the Israeli forces and intervene to end the suffering of thousands of prisoners in the Israeli jails and to bring into account those responsible for the crimes against prisoners.
Around 1500 Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli jails launched an open hunger strike on 17 April, which coincides with the Palestinian Prisoner Day, to demand their most basic human rights and return what has been confiscated by the IPS during the past years. Among these demands are: allowing first and second degree relatives to visit them; ending the policy of medical negligence and conducting periodic examinations; conducting urgent medical operations; entering specialized doctors from outside the prison; ending solitary confinement and administrative detention policies; allowing them to take the Twjihi (Secondary School) exams and join universities; and stopping arbitrary measures against female prisoners. It is expected that more prisoners will successively join the hunger strike.
In contrast, the IPS imposed collective punishments on hunger strikers to discourage them from practicing their right to strike as a tool for exerting pressure on the Israeli authorities to improve prisoners’ living conditions. The IPS launched a campaign of prisoner transferals on the second day of the strike in an attempt to undermine their efforts. Thus, the IPS isolated those leading the strike, including PLC Member Marwan Barghouthi, whose health status deteriorated, and Karim Younis. Furthermore, the IPS deprived the prisoners of family visits, beak and canteen in addition to preventing them from performing Friday prayers, and washing their clothes. It should be noted that water and salt were also confiscated from the cells and prisons, so the prisoners were forced to use the tap water.
The figures and statistics available at PCHR indicate that around 6500 Palestinian prisoners are detained in 22 prisons and detention facilities, most of which are established in Israel, constituting a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, particularly Article (76), which obliges the occupying power to detain prisoners from the occupied population in the occupied territories until the end of their sentences. Most of those prisoners are residents of the West Bank, including 57 women and 300 children. Moreover, the number of sick prisoners is about 1800 prisoners, including 180 prisoners who suffer from serious diseases in addition to 26 others who have cancer.
Being concerned over the life of the prisoners on hunger strike in the Israeli prisons and to save their lives, PCHR;
- Calls upon the international community, particularly the High Contracting Parties to fulfill their moral and legal obligations and oblige Israel to put an end to the suffering of thousands of the prisoners in the Israeli jails, including dozens who served around a decade and others served around 30 years in the prisons in addition to hundreds of patients, who suffer from serious diseases;
- Calls upon the International community to practice pressure on Israel in order to respond for the humane and fair demands of the prisoners on hunger strike;
- Calls upon the International human rights organizations to follow up the cause of the Palestinian prisoners and mobilize International support in order to practice pressure on Israel to stop its arbitrary measures against the prisoners and work on releasing them; and
- Warns the Israeli doctors of attempting to forcibly feed the prisoners on hunger strike, emphasizing that PCHR will prosecute them as war criminals in case they did that.