April 17 [RT Network] – The majority of the 4,699 Palestinians currently being held in Israeli prisons refused their meals on Prisoners’ Day, while 1,200 of them promise to hunger strike indefinitely to protest unfair conditions.
The other 2,300 have refused to eat any food for the whole of Tuesday.
Later on Tuesday Israel is to release Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan, 33, who attracted worldwide media attention after spending 66 days on hunger strike – the longest in Palestinian history.
In Palestine, practically every person has a relative or acquaintance who has spent or is spending time in Israeli prison. Palestinians consider them freedom fighters, whichever setup they belong to, be it Hamas, Islamic Jihad or any other Palestinian organization.
Israel has 17 detention facilities across the country and the West Bank. According to Israeli data, 3,864 of the total number of prisoners are from the occupied West Bank, 475 are from Gaza and 360 are Arab Israelis or from Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem.
The Palestinian data says that 534 prisoners – more than one in 10 – are serving a life sentence.
The Israeli rights group B’Tselem reports that 203 Palestinian children and youth are imprisoned, 31 of whom are under 16 years old.
Israeli uses “administrative detention” that dates back to when the region was a British protectorate. It allows Israel to detain suspects indefinitely without charge, simply by repeating the implied maximum six-month periods of detention time after time.
At the moment there are 319 persons under “administrative detention” in Israel.
Last year the number of Palestinians in Israeli jails was considerably reduced with the release of 1,027 prisoners in exchange for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, a swap between Palestine’s Hamas and official Tel-Aviv after years of negotiations.
All in all, since 1967, when Israel occupied East Jerusalem as a result of the Six-Day War, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, some 700,000 Palestinians have seen daylight from behind the bars of Israeli prisons. This is equivalent to 20 per cent of the total population of the Palestinian Authority.
The RT (Russia Today) network consists of three global news channels, broadcasting in English, Spanish and Arabic, reaching over 430 million people, or 22 percent of all cable subscribers worldwide. RT’s YouTube channel was the first news channel to exceed half a billion views. This story first appeared on RT.com.
Students occupy BBC for Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike!
April 17, 2012 – Over 40 protesters have occupied the headquarters of BBC Scotland in Glasgow, demanding mainstream media coverage for the 2,400 Palestinian prisoners who began hunger strikes today. These actions mark a development from the ongoing hunger strikes which have been taking place since December. Currently, the individuals who have been on hunger strike longest are Thae’r Halahi and Bilal Diab, both of whom are currently on their 50th day without food.
This protest is organized to challenge the BBC’s continued silence around this recent escalation of Palestinian resistance – its refusal to report any of the actions that have led to this decision by 2,400 Palestinians calls into question its impartiality.
The demonstrators entered the building before midday and are currently holding the main lobby, chanting “BBC, shame on you; put the prisoners on the news” and “Hunger strikers will not bow; free the political prisoners now.”
A demonstration has been called in Glasgow for Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, which will rally at George Square at 6 p.m. before marching to the BBC offices in Glasgow. The demonstration will call upon the U.K. media to acknowledge the Karamah strike and the plight of Palestinian prisoners. During the hungers strikes taken by Khader Adnan and Hana Shalabi, the BBC refrained to comment amidst international concern for those on hunger strike, choosing only to publish stories after both prisoners had been offered deals from Israel for their release.
The actions today take place two days after thousands of international activists attempted to fly into Ben Gurion Airport demanding the right to travel to the West Bank on invitation of the mayor of Bethlehem. There are currently around 50 activists being held in detention, including four Scottish nationals, who are refusing food and water in solidarity with the Karamah Hunger Strike.
The demonstrations around the issue of the hunger strikers are being organized by student Palestine societies in Scotland, with the support of various organizations, uniting under the banner of “We Are All Hana Shalabi.”
On Saturday, March 24, over 500 people marched from George Square to the BBC Scotland headquarters in Glasgow demanding that they cover stories about Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike. Today, demonstrations have been called across Scotland in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Many of those marching have been participating in a global hunger strike from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
One of the occupiers said, “The Karamah Hunger Strike represents a potentially significant moment in the history of the Palestinian struggle. The fact that 2,400 Palestinian prisoners are on hunger strike against the apartheid policies of the Israeli occupation shows the desire of Palestinians to have their freedom from prison and freedom from occupation.
“The BBC is complicit through their silence in the ongoing situation in Palestine, and we are occupying today to highlight that the magnitude of this issue and this injustice demands that the media cover it.”
This story first appeared on We Are All Hana Shalabi.
Palestinian civil society and human rights organizations mark Palestinian Prisoners’ Day with call for action against Israeli prison contractor G4S
April 17, 2012 – Today, on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, we the undersigned Palestinian civil society and human rights organizations salute all Palestinian political prisoners, especially those engaging in brave civil disobedience through ongoing hunger strikes in protest to the ongoing violations of human rights and international law. Emphasizing imprisonment as a critical component of Israel’s system of occupation, colonialism and apartheid practiced against the Palestinian people, we call for intensifying the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to target corporations profiting directly from the Israeli prison system.
In particular, we call for action to be taken to hold to account G4S, the world’s largest international security corporation, which helps to maintain and profit from Israel’s prison system for its complicity with Israeli violations of international law.
Imprisonment of Palestinians is a form of Israeli institutionalized violence encompassing all stages of the incarceration process. Palestinian political prisoners face systematic torture and ill treatment during their arrest and detention at the hands of the Israeli military and are frequently and unjustifiably denied family and lawyer visits.
Wide-ranging and collective punishments, including prolonged periods of isolation, attacks on prisoners by special military forces and denial of access to education are used against Palestinian prisoners in an attempt to suppress any form of civil disobedience within the prisons. As of April 2012, there were 4,610 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons, including 203 child prisoners, six female prisoners and 27 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Three hundred twenty-two Palestinians are currently held in administrative detention, without charge or trial.
The severity of injustice and abuse suffered by Palestinian political prisoners has been the drive for many prisoners to begin hunger strikes at different intervals in protest against harsh prison conditions, torture and ill treatment and Israel’s arbitrary use of administrative detention. While the recent hunger strikes of Khader Adnan, who ended his hunger strike after 66 days, and Hana Shalabi, who ended her hunger strike after 43 days, resulted in individual agreements, Israel and the Israeli Prison Service’s policies therein remain unchanged and are now aimed at containing the hunger strikers through punitive measures as well as cutting off their contact with lawyers and family.
Today, an estimate of over 1,000 Palestinian political prisoners are reported to have joined in an open hunger strike in addition to at least eight others already engaged in an open hunger strike, including Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh, on hunger strike since Feb. 29, 2012.
In light of this increasing campaign of civil disobedience from within the prisons, we demand accountability for all corporations that both enable and directly profit from Israel’s continued violations of Palestinian prisoners’ rights being committed with impunity.
In light of this increasing campaign of civil disobedience from within the prisons, we demand accountability for all corporations that both enable and directly profit from Israel’s continued violations of Palestinian prisoners’ rights being committed with impunity. Specifically, we call for action to hold to account G4S, the British-Danish security company whose Israeli subsidiary signed a contract in 2007 with the Israeli Prison Authority to provide security systems for major Israeli prisons. ((http://www.whoprofits.org/articlefiles/WhoProfits-PrivateSecurity-G4S.pdf, p.7))
G4S provided systems for the Ketziot and Megiddo prisons, which hold Palestinian political prisoners from occupied Palestinian territory inside Israel in contravention of international law. ((Article 77 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits the transfer of prisoners from occupied territory to the occupying country.)) The company also provided equipment for Ofer prison, located in the occupied West Bank, and for Kishon and Moskobiyyeh detention facilities, at which human rights organizations have documented systematic torture and ill treatment of Palestinian prisoners, including child prisoners. ((http://www.whoprofits.org/articlefiles/WhoProfits-PrivateSecurity-G4S.pdf, pp.14-15)) G4S continues to provide equipment to Israeli prisons. ((http://corporateoccupation.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/targeting-israeli-apartheid-jan-2012.pdf, p.135))
Moreover, G4S is involved in other aspects of the Israeli apartheid and occupation regime: It has provided equipment and services to Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank that form part of the route of Israel’s illegal wall and to the terminals isolating the occupied territory of Gaza. G4S has also signed contracts for equipment and services for the West Bank Israeli Police headquarters and to private businesses based in illegal Israeli settlements. ((Ibid.)) A panel of legal experts concluded that G4S may be criminally liable for its activities in support of Israel’s illegal wall and other violations of international law. ((http://www.russelltribunalonpalestine.com/en/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/RTOP-London-Session-Findings.pdf, p.18))
We welcome the news that the European Union has announced that it has not renewed its contract for security services with G4S following pressure from groups campaigning for Palestinian rights, and salute the previous decision of the Edinburgh University Student Association to block its contract with G4S. We call upon other public and civil society institutions and also on private companies to follow suit and end their relationships with this company that acts in service of Israeli apartheid and other violations of international law. We demand that the Palestinian leadership ban G4S from private and public tenders and ask for the strict application of the boycott legislation in the Arab world against companies cooperating with the Israeli prison system.
We also note that G4S is being actively opposed by other civil society groups elsewhere in the world for its role in controversial deportation and imprisonment regimes, abuse of workers’ rights, violations of universal human rights standards and involvement in the privatization of public services. Let us work together to expose not only G4S, but also the roles of imprisonment and private security companies as political tools to silence and intimidate communities all over the world.
Let us work together to expose not only G4S, but also the roles of imprisonment and private security companies as political tools to silence and intimidate communities all over the world.
Amid hunger strikes and the highly publicized prisoner exchange deal in October, Palestinian prisoners’ issues have gained recent attention in international spheres. However, despite this increased focus and the criticisms of these practices by United Nations bodies, Israel has made no institutional changes in regard to the human rights violations being committed against Palestinian political prisoners and detainees. ((Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Israel, CERD/C/ISR/CO/14-16, 9 March 2012; Concluding Observations of the Human Rights Committee, Israel CCPR/C/ISR/CO/3; Concluding Observations of the UN Committee against Torture, Israel, CAT/C/ISR/CO/4,14 May 2009; See “Statement by Robert Serry UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process on Palestinian Prisoners, 10 February 2012; “Statement by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967,” 20 February 2012.))
In an attempt to counter Israel’s unwillingness to change its policies and the lack of accountability for its countless human rights violations, alternative measures such as preventing participation by companies such as G4S proves to be one of the few remaining effective steps towards pressuring Israel to comply with international law. It is time overdue to break this chain of international complicity.