[Ppnews] Netanyahu imposes harsher conditions on Palestinian political prisoners

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Aug 12 16:58:27 EDT 2011

Netanyahu imposes harsher conditions on Palestinian political prisoners

Adri Nieuwhof


August 11, 2011

This week I received a letter from Ali, a 
Palestinian political prisoner from Israel. Ali 
is one of the 126 Palestinian prisoners who have 
served more than 20 years in prison. He writes, 
"I spent already 23 years of my life in Israeli 
prison but the prison couldn’t break my spirit. I 
am still a Palestinian who is struggling against 
the occupation in every way that I can." He 
explains how he is fighting the decision of 
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to ban "our 
right to finish our study at the open university."

Absurd practice

his plans to impose harsher conditions on 
Palestinian prisoners in Israel’s prisons on 23 
June. He described academic studies for 
Palestinian prisoners as "an absurd practice" and 
stated his intention to end their enrollment in academic studies.
The European Community held a different opinion 
on academic studies for political prisoners in 
the 1980s. As a member of the Holland Committee 
on Southern Africa, I was involved in the 
implementation of the European Special Programme 
for Victims of Apartheid funded by the European 
Community. Millions of dollars were spent each 
year, including vast amounts on the study costs 
of political prisoners in South Africa’s jails.

Reprisals and collective punishment

Netanyahu’s outburst came after the Islamic 
movement refused an international call to prove 
that a captive Israeli soldier held in Gaza since 
2006 is still alive. Surprisingly, Netanyahu 
claimed that Israeli respects international law 
in its treatment of Palestinian political 
prisoners. It is hard to reconcile his plans for 
collective punishment of Palestinian political 
prisoners with international law. Reprisals and 
collective punishment are prohibited under 
international law, including under Article 33 of 
the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the 
Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.

The Israel Prison Service executed Netanyahu’s 
wish to ban Palestinian prisoners from 
registering for academic study within a month.

Ongoing inhuman and degrading treatment

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) in 
Gaza condemned the new measures taken by the 
Israeli Prison Service in a 
release dated 21 July. PCGR writes:

The gravity of this decision is that it forms 
part of a series of measures. (
) Other measures 
taken against prisoners include intensifying 
searching prisoners after forcing them to take 
off their clothes and placing Palestinian 
leaders, in Israeli jails, in solitary 
confinement. Palestinian prisoners have responded 
by declaring a set of actions in protest of such 
escalations. Prisoners went on a hunger strike 
for 10 sporadic days over the past two months.

This decision by the Israeli Prisons 
Administration is part of a general policy 
adopted by Israeli occupation authorities against 
Palestinian prisoners who are subjected to cruel 
living conditions as well as inhumane and 
degrading treatment, including torture, 
deteriorating health conditions and medical 
negligence towards prisoners – including those 
suffering from serious illnesses.

This has, in some cases, led to death. This 
decision is extremely serious because it is based 
on instructions given from the top of the Israeli political establishment.

PCHR calls upon human rights organizations to 
follow up cases of Palestinian prisoners and to 
request their governments to exert pressure on 
Israel to halt its arbitrary practices against 
Palestinian prisoners and to release them. It is 
time to develop an international agenda to raise 
awareness about the maltreatment of Palestinian political prisoners.

Security multinational G4S

The Danish-British security firm G4S delivers 
security services to prisons in Israel. Who 
Profits, a research project of the Israeli 
Coalition of Women for Peace, and Danish 
financial watchdog DanWatch, revealed this 
November last year. G4S described in its own 
promotional material that it supplied a perimeter 
defense system for the walls around the Ofer 
prison compound, all the security systems in 
Keztiot prison and a central command room in 
Megiddo prison. According to G4S these prisons 
hold 4,900 Palestinian "security prisoners.

By providing services to Israeli prisons, G4S 
helps to facilitate Israel’s violations of the 
rights of Palestinian political prisoners. The 
delivers services to Israeli prisons and illegal 
settlements", which I wrote with Basma Salem, 
gives an overview of these violations. In March, 
G4S refused to clarify to 
Electronic Intifada whether it will cancel contracts with prisons in Israel.

As G4S operates 
many countries, BDS activists all over the world 
have the opportunity to raise awareness of 
Israel’s violations of the rights of Palestinian political prisoners.

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