IGOHR Calls on Israeli Authorities to enter into Negotiation Talks and Respect the Rights of Palestinian Prison Inmates on Hunger Strike
The International Organization for Human Rights (IGOHR) is in solidarity with the thousands of Palestinian inmates on hunger strike in Israeli prisons and strongly urges the Israeli authorities to respect their rights as enshrined in several international human rights covenants and instruments. IGOHR is equally concerned on the physical and psychological health of these inmates as they stage a mass hunger strike in many prisons across Israel.
Approximately 1,500 Palestinians are staging a mass hunger strike in protest of the bad conditions of detention in Israeli prisons. Many others are held for long periods without trails under so-called Administrative Detention, which allows suspects to be detained without charge for six-month intervals. IGOHR stresses that such policies used by Israel contravene the rights of these prisoners as stipulated under regional and international laws as well as international human rights law.
Information provided by the leader of the protest Marwan Barghouti – prominent figure in the Palestinian political arena but presently serving a life sentence in Israel prison – suggest that Palestinian inmates and detainees suffer from brutal torture and cruel treatment in the hands of Israeli forces from the time of arrest and even while in detention. Prison conditions are unbearable and many prisoners are not given proper medical attention. Israel has also used a bogus policy which classifies Palestinian prisoners as terrorists rather than prisoners of war and as such they treat them as criminals who have committed violent terrorist offences or hate crimes and administratively hold them for prolonged periods without charge. About 7,000 Palestinians are in Israeli jails and more than half of this number has not been duly charged nor never been tried.
The International Organization for Human Rights views Israeli’s detention policy and treatment of Palestinian inmates as unacceptable and a direct breach of international human rights standards. IGOHR objects to Israel’s categorizing Palestinian prisoners as terrorist but rather to consider and treat them as ‘prisoners of war’ based on the extended definition of this term in the Third Geneva Convention which Israel ratified and is a state party. IGOHR calls on Israeli government to respect and grant the full rights of these prisoners on hunger strike. Israeli forces should refrain from using extensive solitary confinement and harsh interrogation methods such as torture and degrading treatment to extract information from the prisoners as emphasized in the UN Convention against Torture, other Cruel and Degrading Treatment and Punishment. IGOHR further calls for the unconditional release those held without charge under the administrative detention laws.
Demonstrations in support of the prisoners are being held in Bethlehem and Gaza. Therefore, IGOHR equally urges the Israeli authorities to enter into negotiation talks with these Palestinian inmates on hunger strike and agree on a consensus to end the strike. This will not only prevent the hunger strike to negatively impact on the physical health of the prisoners for which Israel could be held responsible, but it will also help to prevent the already existing political tension between both states from escalating. IGOHR calls on the United Nations and the international human rights community to broker peace talks between both nations and assist them to end the conflict and violence which has been going on for decades.