Israel Reneges On Deal That Ended Mass Hunger Strike Of Palestinian Prisoners

Israeli authorities have reneged on key provisions of the deal that ended a mass hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners last month, a new Amnesty International report on Israel’s practice of administrative detention confirms. Amnesty International, the respected human rights group, reports that Israel has placed 33 Palestinian prisoners in administrative detention since the end of the strike, despite the fact that the deal reportedly stipulated that the Israel Prison Service would not renew administrative detention unless there was “very serious” information on prisoners that would warrant the detention.

Administrative detention is the practice by which the Israeli military locks up Palestinians without charge or trial. Currently, over 300 Palestinian prisoners are being held under administrative detention, which human rights organizations say violates international law.

The Amnesty International report adds to the growing chorus of Palestinian lawyers and activists who say that Israeli prison authorities have violated the core of the deal agreed to by 2,000 prisoners who were on hunger strike.

“While most prisoners held in isolation had been returned to general prison wings, no family visits had been allowed from the Gaza Strip at the time of writing in late May,” the Amnesty report reads. “Additionally, reports that the Israeli military had by the time of writing renewed at least 30 administrative detention orders and issued at least three new ones since the deal was signed suggest that the Israeli authorities may have simply returned to ‘business as usual’ as far as administrative detention is concerned.”

The report’s appendix lists the names of prisoners who have been placed in administrative detention since May 14, the day the prisoner deal was reached. 30 of the prisoners have had their detention orders renewed, while 3 prisoners have been newly placed in administrative detention. 8 prisoners in administrative detention are members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, and another prisoner is Mohammed Ghazal, a university lecturer.

“Israel has used its system of administrative detention – intended as an exceptional measure against people posing an extreme and imminent danger to security – to trample on the human rights of detainees for decades. It is a relic that should be put out to pasture,” said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, in a statement.

The continued use of administrative detention is perhaps the most egregious violation of the deal that ended the hunger strike. But other violations have also occurred. While Amnesty reports that most of the prisoners in solitary confinement have been moved to the general prison population, one Palestinian, Dirar Abu Sisi, remains in isolation. This violates the deal, which called for an end to long-term isolation of prisoners.

Meanwhile, two Palestinian prisoners remain on hunger strike. Mahmoud Sarsak, a Palestinian soccer player, has been on hunger strike for 82 days, while Akram Rikhawi has gone without food for 58 days. Sarsak, who has been imprisoned by Israel for three years, is protesting his detention without charge or trial. Rikhawi is similarly protesting his imprisonment without being charged and tried. Both Sarsak’s and Rikhawi’s health has significantly deteriorated, and Sarsak is reportedly close to death. 

AlterNet / By Alex Kane

Posted at June 8, 2012, 10:58am

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