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Clear violations that should not be allowed

Apr 20,2017 - Last updated at Apr 20,2017

Some 1,500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails on Monday started a hunger strike, hoping to draw the international community’s attention to their plight.

Languishing in Israeli detention centres are around 6,500 Palestinians, including scores of women and hundreds of minors, as well as some 500 who are held in administrative detention, which means incarcerated without charge.

Prisoners on hunger strike are asking, among others, for better medical care, family visits and to be allowed access to telephones.

Israel refuses to negotiate with them. Worse, there are those, like the Israeli justice minister, who say that authorities “would not hesitate to implement the law which authorises the force feeding of detainees”, a controversial law passed in 2015 that sanctions what Palestinian human rights group Al Haq considers “tantamount to torture”.

Prisoners striking is not unique to Palestinians; it happens anywhere where the rule of law is shunned and prisoners’ legitimate rights, recognised under international law, are neglected or violated.

In the case of Palestinians, the conditions in prisons are appalling, by witnesses’ account, and Israeli authorities know that they can do whatever they want with impunity.

After all, the entire Palestinian population under occupation is kept in a huge prison, with restrictions on every aspect of their life, and for 70 years the world has done nothing to put an end to it beyond words and useless resolutions.

Whether in jail or in their homeland, Palestinians have minimum rights, are most often denied basic freedoms and protection, and are subjected to the whims of a cruel occupation power.

Very many are held prisoners under dubious “justifications”; they and the hundreds in administrative detention — an euphemism for arbitrary, unfounded, detention — should have their day in court and freed if found not guilty, as most would.

Better yet, Israel should withdraw within its borders, freeing the entire Palestinian population and allowing it to run its own life.

Meanwhile, improving prisoners’ conditions is the right thing to do.

 

The International Criminal Court would be well advised to look into the case because imprisonment by an occupying force is a clear violation of international law.

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