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ISRAEL AND THE OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES/PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY: Israel must end ‘unlawful and cruel’ policies towards Palestinian prisoners

17 Apr 2017
[International Secretariat]

Israel’s decades-long policy of detaining Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and Gaza in prisons inside Israel and depriving them of regular family visits is not only cruel but also a blatant violation of international law, said Amnesty International, ahead of a mass prisoner’s hunger strike beginning next week to mark Palestinian Prisoner’s Day on 17 April.

Testimonies gathered by the organization from family members and  Palestinian prisoners detained in the Israeli prison system shed light on the suffering endured by families who in some cases have been deprived from seeing their detained relatives for many years.
Israel’s ruthless policy of holding Palestinian prisoners arrested in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in prisons inside Israel is a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Palestinian prisoners preparing to embark on next week’s large scale hunger strike are making a series of demands including calling for an end to Israel’s restrictions on visits and contact with family members. The hunger strike was announced by imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi. A number of other political parties and prisoners have announced they will be joining the strike.

Under international humanitarian law, detainees from occupied territories must be detained in the occupied territory, not in the territory of the occupying power. They must also be allowed to receive visitors, especially near relatives, at regular intervals and as frequently as possible.

According to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club, a non-governmental organization, there are currently 6,500 Palestinian prisoners detained on security-related grounds in Israeli-run prisons and detention facilities. All but one of the 17 facilities are located inside Israel. The vast majority of prisoners are men, 57 are women. At least 500 people are held without charge or trial in administrative detention. The Palestinian Prisoners' Affairs Commission spokesperson Hasan Abed Rabbo said at least 1,000 prisoners are prohibited from receiving family visits on “security grounds”. He added that currently there are around 15-20 prisoners held in isolation, who are banned from any contact with other prisoners and family visits.

According to Israeli Prison Service regulations all prisoners are entitled to family visits once every two weeks. However, in reality, because Palestinians from the Occupied Palestinian Territories must apply for permits to enter Israel, they can visit much less frequently.

Gaza prisoners continue to be most affected by Israeli restrictions as the Israeli military grants permits to families from the Strip only once every two months. This policy affects around 365 prisoners from Gaza currently detained in Israel.

“Instead of unlawfully transferring prisoners outside the occupied territories, Israel must ensure all Palestinians arrested there are held in prisons and detention centres in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Until then, the Israeli authorities must stop imposing excessive restrictions on visitation rights as a means of punishing prisoners and their families, and ensure that conditions fully meet international standards.”

13 April 2017

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