Al Mezan Condemns Israel’s Continuous Violations against Palestinian Detainees and Recognizes Palestinian Prisoners on Hunger Strike

News and Press Release
Originally published

The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) are continuing to carry out violations against Palestinian detainees that are being held in Israeli prisons. The violations of the rights of the prisoners include the treatment of Palestinian detainees according to policies that are counter to international justice principles, such as that of prolonged administrative detention and civilian prosecution within military courts. Further violations of Palestinian detainees include medical negligence, prolonged solitary confinement, restrictions on family visitation, arbitrary strip search campaigns, and acts that constitute physical and psychological torture and ill-treatment. The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights condemns the ongoing Israeli violations against Palestinian detainees. Al Mezan calls on the international community to promptly intervene to end the Israeli systematic violations against Palestinian detainees and calls for recognizing of the plight of the prisoners.

On Thursday, 24 April 2014, about 200 Palestinian detainees, including nine elected members of parliament, being held in Israeli prisons started an open-ended hunger strike in protest of their ongoing administrative detention; the extensions of the detentions are carried out without presentation of evidence legally justifying their initial imprisonment or its extension. The Israeli Prison Service (IPS) repeatedly rolls over prisoner terms by default; procedures that constitutes a breach of international customary law as prolonged arbitrary detention violates the right to liberty, one of the pillars of human rights.

Hunger strikers struggle to end the ill-treatment that they are subject to in Israeli prisons, including prolonged solitary confinement, frequent strip searches, night raids, and insufficient health and medical services. In response to the hunger strike in the Naqab (Negev) prison, the IPS has separated hunger strikers between tents, in an attempt to break the strike.

The widespread maltreatment documented in Israeli prisons amounts to violations of the 1955 United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment adopted in 1988, the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilians in Times of War, and the 1948 International Convention Against Torture, which was ratified by the state of Israel in 1991.

Israeli law provides protection for the ISA investigators who are involved in the practice of torture and/or abuse of Palestinian detainees. Israel’s General Security Service Law of 2000, grants ISA personnel de jure immunity for acts in the course of service as long as they acted 'reasonably and in good faith', and allows torturers to resort to what is called ‘necessity defence’. In addition, Israeli law exempts the police from recording interrogation sessions with the Palestinian detainees, although police are obliged to record interrogations with Israeli prisoners.

Al Mezan Rights reiterates its condemnation of the Israeli systematic violations of the international law against Palestinian detainees. Al Mezan reiterates its previous call on civil society organizations; local and international human rights organizations; and political parties and governments to promptly intervene to disclose Israeli violations of international law principles. Al Mezan likewise calls on civil society groups, national and international human rights organizations, political parties and governments to express their solidarity with Palestinian detainees, to expose Israel’s violations of international humanitarian law, and to oblige Israel to uphold its legal responsibilities. This includes guaranteeing that detainees are not subject to torture and ill-treatment, that they are provided with adequate health care, and that the rights to family visitation are respected. Al Mezan also calls for international action to secure the prompt release of prisoners detained without trial, as a step towards releasing all Palestinian detainees.