Why are Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike?
1. The issue of Palestinian prisoners is one of the worst consequences of the Israeli occupation. Since 1967, over 700,000 Palestinians, 20% of the population of the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip have been detained. This number represents approximately 40% of the total male Palestinian population in the occupied territories.
2. Today, there are about 6,000 prisoners in 17 Israeli jails and detention centres. They include six women and more than 200 minors.
3. 330 Palestinians are being held in administrative detention with no formal charges having been brought against them in a court of law. 28 elected members of the parliament, and three former ministers fall within this category.
4. Israel is currently holding all these Palestinian prisoners far away from their homes, and outside of the occupied territory. This constitutes a clear violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Article 76 of the Convention states:
“Protected persons accused of offences shall be detained in the occupied country, and if convicted they shall serve their sentences therein.”
Article 49 also states:
“Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.”
5. Article 32 specifically prohibits “murder, torture, corporal punishments, mutilation and … any other measures of brutality whether applied by civilian or military agents”. Since 1967, 202 Palestinians prisoners have died while being tortured in Israeli jails.
6. Israel routinely tries Palestinians before military courts, none of which meet the most basic standards of international law; particularly the laws relating to the treatment of prisoners of war and people under occupation.
7. In light of the above, there are now calls for the prosecution of Israeli officials at an international tribunal.
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