In commemoration of Palestinian Prisoners’ Day on April 17th, The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) expresses its solidarity with the 6500 Palestinian detainees and prisoners currently confined in Israeli prisons; a significant number of whom have embarked today on a collective open-ended hunger strike to protest their detention conditions. CIHRS reiterates its call for the immediate release of the 500 detainees held under unlawful administrative detention, in the absence of formal charges against them. We further call on the international community to pressure Israel as the occupying power to structurally review its military judicial system, which violates the basic protections provided by International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law.
Israel’s military judicial system is an instrument serving the expansionist occupation policies of Israel. It is used to persistently deny the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination; and other basic civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights. For half a century until the present day, the Israeli military judicial system has systematically prosecuted, convicted, imprisoned, and detained Palestinians engaged in civic or political activity. There are currently 12 Palestinian Legislative Council members detained by Israel, in addition to tens of journalists, activists and other prominent figures from Palestinian civil society. During the past 50 years of occupation, almost one-third of the total male population (and one-fifth of the population as a whole) in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has been detained at least once.
Israel’s military judicial system is based on military orders stemming from emergency laws imposed during the British colonial era in addition to several military orders codified in a similitude of a penal code that criminalizes legitimate acts falling under the freedom of thought, assembly and association according to international standards. These charges are mainly under the jurisdiction of military courts that do not ensure minimal guarantees of due process. The system has recently been targeting children in particular; with 300 Palestinian children as young as 12 years old currently subjected to detention and arrest.
Jointly with its partners Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Al-Haq, and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights; CIHRS called upon the United Nations member states to address the use of administrative detention against Human Rights Defenders in the OPT in a statement delivered during the 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council. CIHRS supports the Council’s adoption of resolution A/HRC/34/L.40 on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories. The resolution requests the High Commissioner to report to the HRC in the 37th session, stating: “with a particular focus on the factors perpetuating the arbitrary detention of Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israeli jails in consultation with the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention”.