Portuguese parliamentarians from The Portuguese Parliamentary Friendship with Palestine Group, representing all Portuguese political parties, in first time visit to Palestine. The group met in Ramallah with Mr. Mahmoud Abbas President of Palestine, and their Palestinian counterparts, in addition to visits of the parliamentarians to Bethlehem and Hebron.
Regrettably, peace in the holy land today is no closer than a year ago, when we appealed to the International community represented by the UN and its security council to stop Israel’s slaughter of innocent Palestinian children, women and men and wanton destruction of homes, schools, hospitals and vital civilian infrastructure, which terrorized and traumatized the entire civilian population in the Gaza Strip (1.7 million) and left hundreds of thousands of lives and entire communities shattered and in ruins in an inhumane aggression conducted by Israel the occupying power.
On the 23 July – last year, the death toll from that Israeli aggression had already reached 660 Palestinians and was rising. We alerted the whole world to the shocking fact that, even at that stage – two weeks into the Israeli offensive – a third of the casualties were children, more than half children under 12 years old, exposing the occupying forces’ brutality and the false Israeli claims about respect for civilian lives and international humanitarian law.
These facts were later corroborated by the Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry (COI) and the Secretary’s Report on Children and Armed Conflict, which confirmed that by the end of Israel’s assault on Gaza the occupying forces, had killed at least 55 children – from 1 week old babies to 17 years of age – and killed 299 women among the more than 2,251 Palestinians killed, the majority civilians. The reports also confirmed that over 11,000 Palestinians were injured, including 3,540 women and 3,436 children, with injuries so severe due to the lethal weaponry and wide-impact explosives used by Israel that an estimated 10% of injured civilians will suffer life-long disabilities.
The COI also found that Israel persisted with its onslaught even after early knowledge of the high casualty figures, indicating a deliberate decision on the part of Israeli government and military officials to inflict such harm, a fact also confirmed by the testimonies of numerous Israeli soldiers instructed to kill without mercy anyone they encountered in Gaza, man, woman or child.
One year on since the horrific devastation mercilessly and deliberately inflicted on Gaza by Israel, the occupying Power, not a single Israeli official or soldier has been held accountable for these crimes, committed so wantonly before the eyes of the world, the vast human and physical wounds remain unhealed, and hopes are rapidly fading for any relief from this appalling injustice.
Families remain traumatized by indescribable loss, including 1500 children orphaned by the killing of their mothers and fathers, and more than 110,000 people remain homeless, forcibly displaced by Israel’s massive destruction of homes and dependent on aid for their survival. And, as Israel’s blockade continues in collective punishment of Gaza’s 1.8 million Palestinians and continues to obstruct reconstruction and recovery, humanitarian conditions are worsening beyond measure, with unemployment and food insecurity at unprecedented levels and evermore difficult to alleviate as donor support becomes harder to secure. While Gaza is being suffocated and dehumanized, the rest of Occupied Palestine continues to be ravaged by Israel’s vicious settlement campaign, settler terror and repression. Confiscation of Palestinian land, demolition of Palestinian homes and construction of Israeli settlements and the wall and related infrastructure persist, in grave breach of international law, in violation of Security Council resolutions. The dire situation now faced by Palestinians in Khirbet Susiya in the southern hills of Al-Khalil, who are being threatened with destruction of their entire community and forced displacement as extremist settlers and illegal settlements further encroach on their land and rights, and the plans for forced transfer of thousands of Palestinian Bedouins from areas in and around Occupied East Jerusalem, are just two examples of this rabid Israeli colonization. Israeli occupying forces also continue to cause civilian casualties in military raids and attacks on protesters. The killing of 17-year old Mohammed Kasbah, who was shot by Israeli soldiers last week at the Qalandiya checkpoint, brought unbearable tragedy to yet another Palestinian family, this time to a family that had already lost two of their other young sons, Samer, age 15, and Yasser, age 11, to the brutality of this occupation.
Moreover, not a single day passes where Palestinian civilians are not intimidated, arrested and detained, including children, adding to the nearly 6,000 illegally imprisoned by Israel under inhumane conditions and subjected to constant abuse and torture. The plight of our prisoners and detainees has again been highlighted by the 55-day hunger strike of Khader Adnan, who was recently released from detention, clearly, at the moment that Israel launched its war last summer, and considering all the illegal actions perpetrated thereafter, it had intentionally aimed to sabotage the prospects for peace, intensify its collective punishment of the Palestinian people, and strip them of any hope for an end to this cruel occupation and for realization of their inalienable rights and national aspirations.
That is why – despite the global calls for a just solution based on two States on the pre-1967 borders; despite the historic compromise made by the Palestinian leadership more than a quarter century ago; despite over two decades of negotiations; and despite passage of more than 48 years since resolution 242 (1967) – the dangerous political impasse continues and peace remains elusive. This is the direct outcome of Israel’s illegal, combative behavior by which it continues to deny the Palestinian people their rights and entrench its occupation in violation of international law and all norms of morality and decency.
It is also a direct outcome of the Israeli Government’s rejection of peace, bad faith, and obstruction of all attempts to revive negotiations based on clear and credible parameters rooted in the Security Council’s resolutions. In reality, it has not only undermined the efforts to salvage the two-State solution, but is actively destroying it.
As a result, the humanitarian and security situation continues a downward spiral and tensions continue to rise, threatening total destabilization, which we repeatedly draw the Council’s attention to in vain. As the region experiences unprecedented turmoil and extremism, imperiling entire States and endangering international peace and security, we reiterate that continued destabilization poses grave risks that must be averted. Human lives must be saved and the potential of peace be restored.
While some believe that regional crises necessitate turning away from Palestine to focus on other matters, many also believe that solving the conflict now is imperative for the future of the Middle East and beyond.
A just, peaceful solution to the Palestinian¬ Israeli conflict, the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, would open doors for a new era in the region: one of stability, cooperation and collective action for our common goals and also our common problems. The promise of the Arab Peace Initiative, one of the most important peace initiatives the region has ever witnessed, is at the center of this belief. Regrettably, that initiative has never been reciprocated by Israel, which continues to distort it and reject it.
In 2015, as we witness the distress and instability in Palestine and the region as a whole, we do not have the luxury to continue delaying peace. The Palestinian people can no longer delay realization of their fundamental human rights, which they have been so wrongly denied, nor accept rationales asking them to endure more violations, suffering and indignities, while the occupying Power is placated and appeased, not even being held accountable for its most egregious crimes. Palestine seeks peace and coexistence with Israel, but this must be based on freedom and justice.
The Palestinians, continue to welcome and support the French initiative, and call on the Security Council members to move forward now on reaffirming the parameters for peace, based on the internationally-recognized terms of reference enshrined in the relevant UN resolutions, the Madrid principles and the Arab Peace Initiative, as well as a clear time frame for an end to the Israeli occupation, international monitoring and support for implementation of a peace agreement.
Israel must be compelled to cease all of its illegal policies and measures. Whether the blockade or aggression against Gaza, or the colonization and de facto annexation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, or the collective punishment of the Palestinian people, all must be halted and compliance with the law must be demanded. Moreover, Israel must be held responsible for its crimes.
Despite so many failures and setbacks, the Palestinian people still look to the International community represented by the UN and its Security Council to act with conscience to contribute to the attainment of peace and realization of their rights, including to independence in their State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, on the 1967 borders, stressing that the Palestinian demand for freedom is non-negotiable and a prerequisite for lasting peace and security.
1. The EU reaffirms its commitment to a just and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on the two state solution, with the State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous, sovereign, and viable State of Palestine, living side by side in peace and security and mutual recognition. The EU reaffirms that there is no alternative to a negotiated two state solution. The regional context, including the ongoing radicalisation and spread of terrorism, makes it even more urgent to end the conflict. The status-quo is not an option, as the viability of the two state solution is constantly being eroded by new facts on the ground. The EU urges both parties to demonstrate their stated commitment to the two state solution through concrete actions. Actions by either side which call into question their stated commitment to a negotiated solution must be avoided. The EU will actively support the parties to restore confidence and create an environment of trust necessary to engage in meaningful negotiations as soon as possible.
2. An immediate priority must be to address the grave situation in the Gaza Strip. One year after the conflict, the humanitarian and socio-economic situation in the Gaza Strip remains dire. In light of the urgent needs of the people in Gaza, all international community pledges should be honoured. The EU furthermore expresses its concern over UNRWA’s severe lack of funds and, as a leading donor to UNRWA, calls on all concerned donors to step up their funding.
The EU believes that compliance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law by states and non-state actors, including accountability, is a cornerstone for peace and security in the region.
3. The EU welcomes recent steps taken by Israel to ease restrictions in Gaza. However, further positive measures are now needed that enable the full delivery of humanitarian aid, reconstruction and economic recovery on a permanent basis. The EU calls for a fundamental change of the political, security and economic situation in the Gaza Strip, including the end of the closure and a full opening of the crossing points, while addressing Israel’s legitimate security concerns. Recent rocket fire by militant groups is unacceptable and underlines again the danger of escalation. All stakeholders must commit to non-violence and peace. The EU calls on all parties to agree on a durable ceasefire that prevents a return to conflict, strengthens Gaza, as it is an integral part of a future Palestinian state, and reinforces the link between Gaza and the West Bank.
4. The EU urges all Palestinian factions to find common ground, based on non-violence and reconciliation, and to work together to address the needs of the Palestinian population. Intra-Palestinian reconciliation is an important element for reaching the two state solution. In that regard, the EU calls on the Palestinian factions to make reconciliation and the return of the PA to Gaza a top priority. The PA must take greater responsibility in this regard and assume its government function in the Gaza Strip, including in the field of security, civil administration and through its presence at the Gaza crossing points. The EU is ready to provide full support to these efforts, including through the rapid reactivation and possible extension in scope and mandate of its EUBAM Rafah and EUPOL COPPS missions.
5. The EU is committed to working with all sides, including through implementation of existing agreements, to allow the socio-economic development of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and empower Palestinian institutions in preparation for statehood, based on the rule of law and respect for human rights. The EU stresses that actions such as the easing of restrictions must be part of a fundamental change of policy with regard to the occupied Palestinian territory. It calls on Israel to enable accelerated Palestinian construction, as well as social and economic development in Area C. Such actions will serve to strengthen the prosperity and security of both Israelis and Palestinians. It further calls on Israeli authorities to halt plans for forced transfer of population and demolition of Palestinian housing and infrastructure in the Susya and Abu Nwar communities.
6. The preservation of the viability of the two state solution is at the core of EU policy and will remain a priority. In this regard, and recalling that settlements are illegal under international law, the EU reiterates its strong opposition to Israel’s settlement policy and actions taken in this context, such as building the separation barrier beyond the 1967 line, demolitions and confiscation – including of EU funded projects – evictions, forced transfers including of Bedouins, illegal outposts, settler violence and restrictions of movement and access. These actions seriously threaten the two state solution. Settlement activity in East Jerusalem seriously jeopardizes the possibility of Jerusalem serving as the future capital of both states. The EU will continue to closely monitor developments on the ground and their broader implications and remains ready to take further action in order to protect the viability of the two state solution. The EU and its Member States reaffirm their commitment to ensure continued, full and effective implementation of existing EU legislation and bilateral arrangements applicable to settlement products. The EU expresses its commitment to ensure that – in line with international law – all agreements between the State of Israel and the EU must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967.
7. Securing a just and lasting peace will require an increased common international effort. The EU, notably through the action of its recently appointed Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process, will work actively on a renewed multilateral approach to the peace process in consultation with all relevant stakeholders, including partners in the Quartet, notably the US, in the region and the United Nations Security Council. The establishment of an International support group is a possible way to contribute to this end; the Council asks the High Representative to explore options for implementation of this initiative with regional and international actors and to report back in early September. The EU’s position on parameters, as set out in the Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions of July 2014, provides a basis for achieving consensus on the way forward. The EU is ready to engage in joint work with regional partners on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative, and welcomes ongoing efforts of the Quartet in this regard.
Gruesome images coming from Gaza every day and since Israel launched its genocide against the Palestinians in the Gaza strip. Parts of human bodies, human heads divided in halves, dead mother and baby son holding each other and entire families buried alive under their roofs after been bombed by the Israeli military jets, warships and tanks. This disproportionality of the Israeli force by itself is a war crime according to law of war. Had these crimes been perpetrated by anyone except the Israel occupying forces, I have no doubts that the reaction of the International Community would have been definitely different.
In this context two valid questions emerge, the first: is there anyone of any sense of humanity justifies this genocide in Gaza at the hands of the occupier against the occupied? The second question: is it not that this constant killing of the innocent Palestinians which met by a shameful silence of the International community in favour of Israel, had fuelled the creation of Islamic radicalism?
Ironically, America and her allies who accept the Israeli lie of self-defence, have in the past, paid a very dear price not merely of their tax payers money but also in terms of lives of their young soldiers in order to protect the International law and to fight terror. Since the Oslo agreement, Israel waged many disproportionate and destructive offensives with impunity against the Palestinians under its occupation purposefully to protect its racial nature and its occupation rather than defending itself.
Israeli renowned political analysts argued in an o an opinion in the Haaretz in July 2006; “if Gazans were sitting quietly, as Israel expects them to do, their case would disappear from the agenda – here and around the world. Israel would continue with the convergence, which is solely meant to serve its goals, ignoring their needs. Nobody would have given any thought to the fate of the people of Gaza if they did not behave violently. That is a very bitter truth, but the first 20 years of the occupation passed quietly and we did not lift a finger to end it. Instead, under cover of the quiet, we built the enormous, criminal settlement enterprise. With our own hands, we are now once again pushing the Palestinians into using the petty arms they have; and in response, we employ nearly the entire enormous arsenal at our disposal, and continue to complain, ‘They started’.”
I welcomed the Egyptian initiative for the ceasefire, as I did two years ago, as a means to stop this Israeli crime and to save the civilian lives. Consequent to a non -stop Israeli bombardment of the Gazan houses and the civilian infrastructure 205 were killed and 1500 injured overwhelming majority of them were innocent civilians and 600 houses were bombed to earth.
This gives me the courage to say that a ceasefire without any political solution will be only a time out for another Israeli offensive in order to restore the invincibility of its army. Because Israel since it has come into being chose to survive by deterring its neighbours and attack them as it finds necessary to meet its domestic political and social needs. This explains why Israel continued to ignore the tens of UN resolutions calling on Israel to withdraw its forces from the occupied territories and called also to freeze changing facts on the ground such as building settlements and transferring its settlers to live illegally there.
Israel continued with its illegal actions so far with impunity stemmed from the American unconditional support. So far America has exercised its veto right more than 42 times in order to protect Israel and its illegal actions.
Peace is too precious to be left in the hands of the Israeli political leadership that simply cares for future elections much more than future generations. All previous offensives waged against the people of Palestine and Lebanon were in the vicinity of the general Israeli elections.
It is time for the International community to realize that justice is the best “retaliation” against the Palestinians who have been appealing consistently for political freedom from captivity and bondage of the only military occupation remaining on the face of this globe today: the Israeli occupation of the state of Palestine. Negotiations based on the current terms of take it or leave it will never deliver a peaceful settlement in the Holy land.
All we the Palestinians including Hamas aspire for, is to live with dignity in our own sovereign country side by side with the state of Israel. It is the duty of the International community to enforce its endorsed two state solution. Alternatively, radicalism with its destructive tools will be the only spoken language in the Middle East and for sure beyond.
Ambassador of Palestine
Article first appeared on 18.07.2014: http://www.publico.pt/mundo/noticia/a-justica-e-a-melhor-retaliacao-1663244
The second of July marks the first anniversary of the brutal crime of the child Mohammad Abu-khdair (16 years) who was burned alive to death, at the hands of three terrorist Israeli settlers, but Abu Khdair is still alive in the memory of all with any sense of humanity. In memory of his son, Hussein Abu Khdeir has said “We don’t forget him. We burn on the inside every time we remember the way he was murdered”.
It is most likely that the Racist Israeli law would release these terrorist settlers, perpetrators of this inhumanness or lightly sentence them by claiming they are deranged or in self-defense.
In fact, there are many similar cases when Israeli murderers of Palestinians were found not guilty. Few years ago an Israeli security officer of a settlement built on the Land of the Palestinian village called Hosan near Bethlehem, had beaten to death a Palestinian child named Hilmi Shoushah claiming that he threw a stone at his car. This officer was sentenced by Israeli court to six months community service.
Israeli illegal Settlers in Palestine do commonly overrun with their cars Palestinians by-passers and bystanders. Christian and Muslim holy places have been vandalized and burned in addition to burning and uprooting hundreds of thousands of fruit trees.
Those settlers have got away with their offenses or at best lightly sentenced by their racial law.
Settler´s violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank is routine and goes unpunished by Israel, with 324 incidents of violence recorded in 2014, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. On the other hand, God help any Palestinian who dared to commit the same, because the sentence will be shot to death on the spot or more than hundred years imprisonment.
We still remember the South African Jewish Judge Goldstone, whom in his report on operation cast lead of 2008/ 2009, had found the state of Israel guilty of conducting war crimes and crimes against humanity. Israel, so far got away with all of its crimes since it has come into being, as nobody dared to hold this spoiled country “Israel” accountable for its crimes, as if Israel is an above the International law country.
Ironically Israel the murdering state, and in order to evade charges with its latest crimes against the people of Gaza during its last offensive “protective Edge” of July 2014, has conducted its own investigations and found itself not guilty.
Meanwhile an Israeli ministerial legal committee approved on Sunday 31st May this year, a bill that could see Palestinian youth/children, who throw stones at moving vehicles jailed for up to 10 or more years.
I in In the midst of all these Israeli racially judicial contradictions expect the whole International community to refuse these Israeli investigations and their jokily outcomes, Not merely because the Israeli Judicial system is racist by its nature but also because Israel in fact insults the whole international community as it undermines the intelligence of every one. On record Israel in this most ruthless offensive “protective edge” had erased 72 whole families from the civil register and killed more than 600 children and leveled to earth complete neighborhoods.
Palestine Simply joined the International criminal court not merely to bring Israel to justice for its crimes but more importantly is to bring Israel down to earth in order to become a normal country, by erasing the Israeli culture of impunity in which the Israeli occupying forces and settlers have so vilely and continuously assaulted Palestinian civilians under their occupation. The Palestinians after decades of been victims of Israeli the occupying power are hopeful that under international law have finally gained access to justice.
Ambassador of Palestine
Article first appeared on 08.07.2015: http://www.publico.pt/mundo/noticia/o-acesso-dos-palestinianos-a-justica-1701259
Op-Ed by: Dr. Saeb Erekat, PLO Executive Committee member, head published in The Guardian on June 28th, 2015.
Link to the article: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/28/palestine-europe-honour-agreements-israel
In light of the latest developments in the diplomatic arena, including a Security Council Peace Initiative, the UN report on the 2014 Gaza aggression and Palestine’s first submission of information to the International Criminal Court, it is worth reminding ourselves of Europe’s role in and responsibility for solving the question of Palestine.
Internationally, it is often forgotten that the two-state solution is built on a huge concession of Palestinian land: 78% of what was Palestine before the creation of Israel in 1948. This painful decision came out of years of internal discussion and external dialogue, in an attempt to achieve the long-overdue recognition of the rights of the Palestinian people and ensure peace for everyone in the region. Europe stood with us at the centre of these discussions and committed itself to supporting a political process which would realise this common goal.
That was in 1988, almost three decades ago. Over time, the political process somehow became an end in itself, the only goal being to get the two parties to the table – nowadays an almost feverish obsession for some governments. It didn’t matter how many Palestinians were killed or imprisoned, or that the bulldozers continued to crush Palestinian homes or even projects funded by the EU, while the cranes built more illegal settlements for Israeli citizens. It hasn’t mattered that one party at the table does not even want the two-state solution, as Mr. Netanyahu openly announced on the eve of the election in March of this year. (He rowed back on the claim after winning reelection four days later, prompting a number of his apologists in Europe to play it down as mere ‘campaign rhetoric’.) It seems not to matter that the current reality is of a single state and two systems – one of privilege for Israeli Jews and one of discrimination for Palestinian Christians and Muslims.
Over the years, the EU has tried to incentivise Israel to come to the table with juicy little carrots, the EU-Israel Association Agreement being a case in point. This document enshrines human rights and political progress as basic conditions for an agreement which provides Israel with a whole host of benefits. Israel ignores the conditions and yet reaps the benefits. The logical outcome? Israel has nothing to fear from its violations of international law and no incentive to negotiate a solution.
What we, as Palestinians, are asking from Europe is nothing more than that the EU protects their own 20-year-long investment in the two-state solution by respecting its own obligations under domestic and international law. Nothing more than adherence to its own policies. Nothing more than allowing our people the same basic human rights to which all people are entitled.
Under international law, states have a duty not to support Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land. Logic and law dictate that the EU and its member states take active steps towards implementing the two-state solution. Recognising the state of Palestine on the 1967 border is a natural translation of the Palestinian right to self-determination. This right, as stated in Europe’s own Berlin declaration of 1999, cannot be subject to any veto (meaning, for one thing, that it cannot be made contingent upon negotiations). Following the EU Guidelines relating to prizes and grants, more must be done to ensure that states are not directly or indirectly supporting the occupation, by banning products and goods made on stolen land with stolen natural resources. Furthermore, Israel’s failure to meet the basic conditions of the Association Agreement with the EU should logically result in that agreement being formally reviewed.
The PLO’s internationalisation strategy is based on the idea that only by ensuring equality and justice will we be able to achieve a lasting peace. When last Thursday Palestine submitted its first files of evindence to the International Criminal Court, we sent the same message: Justice is a universal concept. Europe cannot be the champion of universal human rights with the exception of Palestine. And boosting relations with Israel while the latter is systematically violating the rights of the Palestinian people is not logical and not in line with the law.
he purpose of this brief is to give an overview of Israel’s mass confinement of Palestinians and clarify the realities of imprisonment by Israel’s lopsided military “justice” system.
1. How many Palestinian political prisoners are there?
There are approximately 5820 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli prisons or detention camps spread across 17 prisons, 4 interrogation centers, and 4 detention centers. All but one of the prisons (Ofer Prison near Ramallah) are located inside Israel, in direct contravention of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that an Occupying Power must detain residents of occupied territory in prisons inside the occupied territory. An additional 1,061 Palestinians were held in Israel Prison Service facilities for being in Israel illegally, 19 of them from the Gaza Strip.
As of March, 2015:
Total Number of Political Prisoners:
426 (5 PLC members)
182 (25 under 16)
Palestinian Legislative Council members:
East Jerusalem prisoners:
1948 Territories prisoners:
374 (1 under the Unlawful Combatants Law)
Prisoners serving life sentences:
Prisoners serving a sentence above 20 years:
Prisoners serving more than 25 years:
Prisoners serving more than 20 years:
Prisoners before Oslo:
2. What does Israel consider a “security offense”?
The majority of Palestinian political prisoners are charged with offenses under Israeli military orders. These orders employ a broad definition of “security”, such that they ban, among other things, political expression.
For instance, Military Order 101 states that it is “forbidden to conduct a protest march or meeting (grouping of ten or more where the subject concerns or is related to politics) without permission from the Military Commander.” The order also prohibits the distribution of political articles and pictures with “political connotations.”4 Similarly, Military Order 938 even considers “supporting a hostile organization by holding a flag or listening to a nationalist song” a “hostile action.” Military Orders 101 and 938 are only two amongst numerous orders that restrict Palestinian political life in the occupied Palestinian territory.
Because of the breadth of Israel’s definition of “security,” Palestinians can be arrested and imprisoned for practically any form of public activity, regardless of whether or not they present any so-called “security threat”. The practical implication of these broadly-defined offenses is the criminalization of many aspects of Palestinian civic life. For example, the political parties that comprise the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) are still considered “illegal organizations” even though Israel has been engaged in negotiations with the PLO since 1993 and coordinates security aspects with the Palestinian National Authority. Carrying a Palestinian flag is also a crime under Israeli military regulations. Participation in a demonstration is deemed a disruption of public order. Pouring coffee for a member of a declared “illegal” association can be seen as support for a terrorist organization.
3. Do Palestinian prisoners enjoy minimum standards of due process?
No. International, Israeli and Palestinian human rights organizations have thoroughly documented the Israeli military court system’s failures in providing Palestinians with minimum guarantees of due process. Some of the failures of the system include the following:
Palestinian political prisoners are put on trial in Israeli military tribunals. These military tribunals are made up of judges, prosecutors, and translators who are all appointed by the Israeli military commander – the same individual who is empowered to make changes to Israeli military orders. Also, some of the judges appointed by the military commander do not have legal training. As a result, these tribunals fail to meet the standard required by Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights which calls for a “fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law.”5
Lawyers are denied the means necessary to build a proper defense. According to Addameer Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Association, it takes an average of 30 to 45 days before a lawyer is able to meet his or her client due to a series of bureaucratic obstacles placed by the Israeli authorities.6 Additionally, lawyers are often searched at the prison before they are able to meet with their client, and client visits are often monitored by guards such that the attorney-client privilege is compromised.7
Palestinian detainees are often tortured, or subjected to cruel and degrading treatment during their interrogation or detention.8 The use of torture, combined with the absence of prompt access to an attorney compromise the veracity of confessions obtained through interrogation.
Palestinians can be held in Israeli jails for 90 days without charge. This period can be extended by another 90 days by Israeli authorities.
Sentences handed down by the military courts cannot be appealed to courts outside the military court system. Given that all actors within the military court system fall under a single command, and share common institutional allegiances and sets of interests, the military courts review process provides limited recourse, at best. As a result, Palestinians convicted of “security offenses” do not have access to an effective appeals process, and hence are denied the right guaranteed under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to have a “conviction and sentence … reviewed by a higher tribunal according to law.”9
4.What is “Administrative Detention”?
“Administrative Detention” refers to the detention of individuals for preventative purposes. Administrative detention is a procedure that allows the Israeli military to hold detainees indefinitely on “secret information” without charging them or allowing them to stand trial. In the occupied Palestinian West Bank, the Israeli army is authorized to issue administrative detention orders against Palestinian civilians on the basis of Military Order 1651 (Art. 285). This order empowers military commanders to detain an individual for up to six-month renewable periods if they have “reasonable grounds to presume that the security of the area or public security require the detention.”
The practice of administrative detention as exercised by Israel is illegal.
Israel uses administrative detention as “a quick and efficient alternative to criminal trial”, 11 circumventing international procedural protections for the accused.12 Under Israeli law, administrative detention orders may last for up to six months, with Palestinians held without charge or trial during this period.13 Israel routinely renews the detention orders and may do so any number of times, thereby holding Palestinians without charge or trial indefinitely.
The Israeli military detains Palestinians on a broad definition of “security threat” – a definition so broad as to include “political subversion.”14
Detainees are not informed of the reason for their detention.
While detainees may appeal their detention, neither they nor their attorneys are allowed to access the State’s evidence, making it very difficult for them to refute the allegations against them.15
5. Does Israel Use Palestinian Prisoners as Political Bargaining Chips?
Yes. Israel has often used Palestinian political prisoners as bargaining chips in its history of negotiations with Palestinians. For instance, in 1994, Israel agreed to release 5,000 Palestinian political prisoners within 5 weeks, 16 but failed to do so. Instead, it made the release of Palestinian political prisoners an issue to be renegotiated, in order to extract further Palestinian concessions.
In 1999, Israel agreed to release Palestinian prisoners arrested prior to May 4, 1994 in the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum. However, Israel failed to release these prisoners, and opted to hold onto them instead.
Another example is the “arrest” of 27 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and 6 Palestinian ministers on June 29, 2006. These 33 officials were arrested following the kidnapping of Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit. More recently, Israel reneged on its agreement to release all pre-Oslo prisoners as part of Secretary Kerry led negotiations between July of 2013 and April of 2014.
6. Do conditions of detention for Palestinian children meet minimum standards?
No. Under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Israel is obligated to refrain from imprisoning children except as a measure of last resort and only for the shortest appropriate period of time. Yet, over 8,000 Palestinian children were arrested and detained between September 2000 and December, 2014.1 Today, 425 children remain in Israeli jails, some as young as 12 and 13. Almost all child detainees have reported some form of torture or mistreatment, whether physical (beatings or being placed in painful positions) or psychological (abuse, threats or intimidation).18 Children are routinely held in detention centers under appalling conditions: In some centers, up to eleven children have been packed into cells as small as five square meters.19 Children are also kept in centers with adults, all in contravention of the United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child.20
A United Nations committee reported:
A few witnesses also drew the attention of the Special Committee to the appalling conditions of imprisoned minors, mixed up with adults, sometimes with women adults. They were allegedly arrested in the same way as adults, at night, taken to military camps and beaten up. They were interrogated without the presence of relatives and could not meet their lawyers for 60 days. They were subjected to various threats such as destruction of their homes, life imprisonment, beheading or rape. One youth had reportedly been confined in an isolated cell for 60 days. They were often kept three to a cell, sleeping on the floor, struggling with cockroaches and suffering poor hygienic conditions owing to lack of water. They were often exposed to ill-treatment when transferred to the court or to another prison. Unlike Israeli detainees, they had no rehabilitation or recreational programmes.21
7. Do conditions of detention for Palestinians meet minimum standards?
No. Israel has regularly failed to ensure that the conditions under which Palestinians are detained or imprisoned meet minimum standards.22 Prisons and detention centers often provide prisoners little to no protection from the summer heat, or the winter cold. They are poorly equipped, poorly maintained and overcrowded. In many cases, prisoners have contracted diseases as a result of poor hygiene.
In January 2006, a report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur found that:
Prison conditions are harsh: prisoners live in overcrowded and poorly ventilated cells which they generally leave for only two hours a day. Allegations of torture and inhuman treatment of detainees and prisoners continue. Such treatment includes beatings, shackling in painful positions, kicking, prolonged blindfolding, denial of access to medical care, exposure to extreme temperatures and inadequate provision of food and water.
Additionally, Israel transfers Palestinian prisoners to facilities in Israel despite its obligation to detain them within occupied Palestinian territory.23 Moreover, according to the UN Special Rapporteur, “family visits remain a serious problem. As prisons are held in Israel and many Palestinians are denied admission to Israel, a majority of prisoners receive no family visits.”24
8. Why is the release of Palestinian prisoners so important?
No issue highlights Israel’s 48-year denial of Palestinian freedom under military occupation better than that of political prisoners. Palestinians have been subjected toone of the highest rates of incarceration in the world. Since 1967, Israel has detained and imprisoned over 800,000 Palestinians as part of a policy to quash resistance to Israel’s occupation and to intimidate the civilian population. Of the 3.9 million Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, there are few who have not been personally affected by Israel’s imprisonment of Palestinians – either through their own imprisonment or that of a family member, friend, or colleague. This number constitutes approximately 20 percent of the total Palestinian population in the Occupied State of Palestine and as much as 40 percent of the total male Palestinian population. It also includes approximately 10,000 women jailed since 1967, as well as 8,000 Palestinian children arrested since 2000.
The widespread imprisonment of Palestinians, along with the inhumane treatment they receive while imprisoned, has placed the release of all Palestinian prisoners high on the national agenda.
9. What is the Permeant Status Position on Prisoners?
The Palestinian position regarding Prisoners is simple. Israel must release all Palestinian prisoners held in its jails, not only as part of a final-status agreement, but also part of the process of negotiations and confidence building measures intended to build momentum for a peace deal. Israel must also live up to its commitments both in its bi-lateral agreements and under international law, including:
The release of all Palestinian Prisoners arrested before the commencement of the Oslo peace process as stipulated in the Sharm Al-Sheikh memorandum.
Cease its policy of administrative detention and its application of military laws and regulations, which deny Palestinians a fair due process.
Ease and facilitate family visitation on a regular and uninterrupted basis.
Stop the isolation of prisoners in individual cells and improve the health (including dental health), sanitary, and educational services provided to Palestinian prisoners.
Cease the use of torture both physical and psychological in interrogations.
Cease the transfer of Palestinian Prisoners to prisoner within Israel’s proper in contravention of the Geneva Conventions