Palestinian officials want UN help for ‘hostages’

Tuesday 03 April 2012
by Tom Mellen

Palestinian officials appealed to the international community on Tuesday to press the Israeli government to end its draconian administrative detention policy.

Addressing the first day of a two-day UN meeting in Geneva on “The question of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli prisons and detention facilities,” Palestinian Legislative Council representative Ahmed Shreem and director general of prisoners’ rehabilitation minister Mohammad Albatta called on UN member states to bring concerted legal and diplomatic pressure to bear on Israeli authorities.

They said that this was the only way to force them to stop locking Palestinian people up in Israel for renewable terms of six months without charge.

Earlier this week PA Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe branded administrative detention a “dangerous policy” which “turns Palestinian prisoners into hostages of the Israeli security services in breach of international human rights law.”

More than 300 Palestinians are currently held in administrative detention in Israeli prisons.

The Geneva meeting, which was convened by the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, began two days after Tel Aviv expelled Palestinian prisoner Hana Shalabi to the blockaded Gaza Strip as part of a compromise deal that persuaded her to end her 43-day hunger strike against the policy.

On the same day Israeli officials shifted imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti into solitary confinement in Hadarim prison and robbed him of his rights to see visitors.

Authorities decided to put him in solitary for a week after he launched an appeal for a new popular, peaceful intifada against Israel and an “end of all the forms of co-ordination” with it in a letter to mark 10 years since his arrest.

Mr Barghouti is currently serving five life sentences for his role in three attacks that killed five, three of whom were Israeli civilians.

At the time of his arrest in Ramallah in May 2002 Mr Barghouti was a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, but Israeli authorities rode roughshod over his diplomatic immunity and ignored the fact that they have no jurisdiction in the West Bank.

He was also transferred from the occupied territory to a jail in Israel in breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

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