UN: Statement by Bureau of Committee on Exercise of Inalienable Rights of Palestinian People on Situation of Palestinian Prisoners in Israeli Prisons 20Oct11 October 20, 2011

UN.org   -  General Assembly  –   13 October 2011

The Bureau of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People issued the following statement today, 13 October:

The Bureau of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People expresses its grave concern at the situation of thousands of Palestinian political prisoners held by Israel, who have joined an open-ended hunger strike since 27 September 2011 in protest against the latest deterioration of their conditions of detention and the systematic violation of their fundamental human rights by the occupying Power, including the imposition of solitary confinements and restrictions on family visits.  The Israeli prison authorities have regrettably responded with additional punitive measures against the hunger strikers. 

The Bureau recalls that, since the beginning of the Israeli occupation in 1967, at least 750,000 Palestinian civilians have been arrested, detained and imprisoned by Israel.  Currently, thousands of Palestinians are held in political detention by Israel, including children, women and elected officials.  The Bureau is alarmed by credible well-documented reports of the systematic abuse; mistreatment; medical neglect; denial of due process, legal assistance and visits; arbitrary detention; humiliation; and torture to which Palestinian prisoners are subjected on a daily basis at the hands of the Israeli occupying forces, in blatant contravention of international humanitarian and human rights instruments, including the Geneva Conventions. 

Of particular concern to the Bureau is the situation of the vulnerable prisoners — women, children, and the sick.  Moreover, the Bureau is deeply troubled by the devastating effects the ongoing arrests campaign is having on the very fabric of the Palestinian society.  The Bureau is appalled that Palestinian prisoners and their families have been used as hostages by the Israeli Government in a deliberate campaign of pressure for political ends. 

The Bureau welcomes the recent agreement mediated by Egypt to release a substantial number of Palestinian prisoners and the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, and calls for an early release of all political prisoners incarcerated illegally by Israel and for their speedy reintegration into society.  Until that time, Israel should reverse its repressive measures and scrupulously comply with its international obligations.  The Bureau calls on the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions, as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and World Health Organization (WHO) to monitor and ensure Israeli compliance. 

The Bureau is mindful of the critical importance of the prisoners’ issue to a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, both as a confidence-building measure and a sine qua non of a permanent settlement.  The Committee will continue to keep the situation under review, raise international awareness of the prisoners’ issue, and advocate for an urgent solution as part of its mandated activities to promote a peaceful settlement of the Question of Palestine in all its aspects in accordance with international law and the relevant United Nations resolutions.

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