UNHRC asked to probe Israel’s systematic detentions

Tel Aviv, Israel (AIC) – The UN Human Rights Council is urged by rights groups to make an official visit and probe Israel’s systematic detention policy against Palestinians.

Palestinian rights groups Addameer and Badil urged the Human Rights Council to conduct an official visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory to investigate Israel’s systematic detention policy, particularly developed over the summer.

Speaking at an interactive cluster discussion of Council’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the groups noted that in the last three months alone, over 2,200 Palestinians have been arrested in the occupied Palestinian territory and within Israel. Over 6,500 Palestinians, including women and children, are currently held in Israeli prisons, the most since 2010.

Palestinian political prisoners affiliated with Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and Palestinian Liberation Organisations have been denied family visits since 15 June, following abduction of three Israeli teens in the West Bank. The Israeli Prison Service recently informed the Israeli human rights organisation Hamoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual  that prisoners identified with PLO groups are now allowed family visits. In practice, however, Hamoked reports that restrictions are still in place and only Fatah-identified prisoners may receive visits.

An image in Palestine.  Image Source: "Bethlehem Wall Graffiti 1" by Photo: Pawel Ryszawa, Graffiti: Banksy - Own work.

An image in Palestine.
Image Source: “Bethlehem Wall Graffiti 1” by Photo: Pawel Ryszawa, Graffiti: Banksy – Own work.

During its most recent attack on Gaza, Israel arrested over 200 Gazans, 30 of whom are still imprisoned and their whereabouts unknown. Israel further detained more than 450 Palestinians in the weeks following the July 1 murder of Palestinian teen Muhammad Abu Khdeir, 300 of whom are still in prison. Amazingly, many of those arrested belong to the Abu Khdeir family.

Addameer and Badil further noted two recent developments of particular concern. One is that Israeli military orders have been amended to allow for the indefinite interrogation of Palestinian detainees. And the second is that Israel is escalating its use of administrative detention, a policy to detain Palestinians without charge or trial based on secret information.

Since June, 480 Palestinians have been placed in administrative detention, the highest number since 2008.

Even before the numbers of administrative detainees skyrocketed, protest against this unjust imprisonment was a crucial motivating factor for the hunger strikes by Palestinian prisoners, both individuals and groups, over the past three years. This year, administrative detainees conducted a 63-day mass hunger strike to demand an end to the arbitrary policy of administrative detention.