What is the situation with Palestinian political prisoners and why are they staging this massive hunger strike? Below is a list of some of the deplorable conditions prisoners are subjected to, in direct contravention of international law.
Currently, more than half of the Palestinian prisoner population is engaged in the hunger strike.
Read below to find out exactly what some of the issues are.
No charge? No trial? No justice!
320 Palestinians are currently held under administrative detention, including 24 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Administrative detention is a procedure that allows the Israeli military to hold prisoners indefinitely on secret evidence without charging them or allowing them to stand trial. It is renewable indefinitely for repeated periods of up to six months. Palestinians held under administrative detention are not charged with any crime, nor are they brought to trial even before the Israeli occupation’s rigged military courts.
Palestinians have been subjected to administrative detention since the beginning of the Israeli occupation and before that time, under the British Mandate. The Palestinian hunger strikers whose cases have attracted much recent attention, Khader Adnan and Hana’ Shalabi, were both held under administrative detention.
Military injustice: The military court system
Palestinian prisoners from the West Bank face a military justice system that is entirely separate from that for Jewish Israelis, including settlers, who are instead part of the Israeli civil justice system. This military justice system for Palestinian political prisoners includes systematic and arbitrary detention without charge, the acceptance of torture, an almost complete lack of due process, vague charges, very low standards of evidence including the use of secret evidence, and widely disparate and harsher sentencing than the civil justice system. Palestinian defendants facing trial in 2010 were found guilty in 99.74 percent of cases. Proceedings are conducted in Hebrew, which few Palestinians speak.
Military trials are overseen by three military judges, two of which are not required to be trained in law. The Israeli military retains for itself the right to declare any Palestinian organization ‘illegal’ and thus prosecute membership or association with that organization. Most Palestinian political parties, as well as countless labor unions, student groups, women’s organizations, and other sectoral groups, fall squarely into the category of ‘illegal organizations’ and a large number of Palestinian political prisoners who have been “charged and tried,” are serving sentences for ‘membership in an illegal organization,’ ‘support for a hostile organization’ and similar charges.
Secret evidence is routinely used in military trials, ‘security trials’ of Palestinian citizens of Israel, and reviews of administrative detention. Palestinian prisoners - and their lawyers - are not permitted to see this secret evidence, whose secrecy is deemed necessary for the “security of the state.”
Torture and Abuse
Palestinians may be detained for up to twelve days without being informed of the reason for their arrests or being brought before a judge. During this period of detention, Palestinians may be interrogated constantly; following this period, prisoners may be brought before a military judge and charged, sent to administrative detention or released. A Palestinian detainee may go through 180 days of initial interrogation; for the first 60 of those days, he or she may not be seen by a lawyer.
The use of so-called “moderate physical pressure” in Israeli interrogations is accepted, legal and common. Legalized torture in Israeli jails includes the use of short-shackling, “stress positions” - painful positions in which a person is shackled for periods of time, beatings and squeezing of handcuffs, as well as sleep deprivation, exposure to temperature extremes for extended periods of time, the use of noise and loud sounds, humiliation and threats, and many other documented tactics of abuse. The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society has estimated that 90% of Palestinian detainees were tortured in Israeli custody, and confessions and other information extracted through torture may be used in military courts, ‘security trials’ and as part of secret evidence dossiers.