RAMALLAH, April 15, 2017 (WAFA) – A total of 6500 Palestinians are currently held in Israeli jails, including women, children and lawmakers, a joint press release by the Detainees Commission, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society and the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) said on Saturday.
It said marking Palestinian Prisoner’s Day, which coincides on Monday, that 57 woman, including 13 minors, are among the prisoners, in addition to 300 defined as children according to international standards, 500 who are held in administrative detention without charge or trial and 13 members of the Palestinian parliament.
At least 1500 prisoners from all Palestinian political factions led by incarcerated Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti are planning to start an open-ended hunger strike on Monday demanding better prison and visit conditions.
The prisoners are demanding to be moved to prisons in the occupied territories as per the Fourth Geneva Convention, which would make it easier for their families to visit them, as well as lifting restrictions on family visits and better treatment at military checkpoints.
Other demands include: An improvement of access to medical care; increasing visit duration from 45 to 90 minutes; families of women prisoners meet without glass barriers to allow mothers to hold their children; an improvement in detention conditions including easing restrictions on the entry of books, clothing, food and other gifts from family members; restoring some educational facilities; and installing phones to enable prisoners to communicate with their families.
The international rights group, Amnesty International (AI), Thursday called on Israel to end “unlawful and cruel” policies towards Palestinian prisoners.
“Israel's ruthless policy of holding Palestinian prisoners arrested in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in prisons inside Israel is a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. It is unlawful and cruel and the consequences for the imprisoned person and their loved ones, who are often deprived from seeing them for months, and at times for years on end, can be devastating,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, ahead of the declared prisoners’ hunger strike.
Family visits are allowed once every two weeks and those in the West Bank or Gaza Strip visiting prisoners inside Israel required special Israeli-army issued permits to cross checkpoints, which could be denied to any family member on “security” grounds.
Gaza prisoners are most affected by Israeli restrictions as the Israeli military grants permits to families from the Strip only once every two months. This policy affects around 365 prisoners from Gaza currently detained in Israel.
In addition, Hamas prisoners along with other prisoners living in the same prison wings, are only permitted one monthly visit, irrespective of where they come from.