ISLAMABAD, April 17: April 17 marks Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, announced by the Palestinian National Council in 1974 as a national tribute to honor the thousands of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli occupation prisons and to support their legitimate right to freedom. This Palestinian Prisoners’ Day coincides with the escalation of the Israeli occupation’s aggression against the Palestinian people as it perpetrates greater systematic crimes and human rights violations. The Israeli Apartheid regime continues to detain 4,450 prisoners, including 32 female prisoners, 160 children, and 530 administrative detainees held without charge or trial.
Statistics Outlining the Reality of Palestinian Prisoners
Since the beginning of 2022, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have arrested over 2,140 Palestinians, the majority of which took place in the occupied Palestinian cities of Jerusalem and Jenin. Arrests escalated during March 2022 and with the beginning of the Holy month of Ramadan, reaching their peak on April 15, when IOF raided Al-Aqsa mosque during dawn prayer and carried out arbitrary mass arrests of over 450 Palestinians, including many children.
The number of sick Palestinian prisoners has reached over 600 prisoners, 200 of whom have been diagnosed with chronic illnesses, including 22 prisoners with cancer and tumors of varying degrees. The most dangerous of these cases is Nasser Abu Hamid, who is in critical health as he battles lung cancer.
The number of martyrs among Palestinian prisoners has reached 227 martyrs, including the death of Sami Al-Amour due to the deliberate medical negligence-a cruel and slow killing-in addition to the hundreds of freed prisoners who died as a result of diseases they contracted within the prison. Such was the prominent case of Hussein Masalma, who died shortly after Israeli occupation authorities ordered his release after years of medical negligence by the Israeli Prison Services (IPS). The number of Palestinian prisoners who died due to deliberate medical negligence has reached 72 cases.
As part of its systematic and cruel practice of necropolitics, the Israeli occupation continues to detain the bodies of eight Palestinian prisoners who died while serving their sentence, including Anis Doula, from Ashkelon prison in 1980, Aziz Owisat in 2018; Fares Baroud, NassarTaqtatqa, and Bassam Al-Sayeh, who passed away in 2019, Sa’di Al-Gharabli, Kamal Abu Wa’r, in 2020; and most recently, Sami Al-Amour, in 2021.
There remain 25 Palestinian prisoners who were arrested before the Oslo Accords. The oldest of them are Karim Younis and Maher Younis, who have been imprisoned since 1983, and the prisoner NaelBarghouthi, who is serving the longest detention period in the history of Palestinian prisoners as he enters his 42nd year in Israeli occupation prisons. NaelBarghouthi spent 34 consecutive years in prison before being freed in the 2011 prisoner exchange deal, only to be re-arrested in 2014.
There are currently eight Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) representatives imprisoned by the Israeli occupation, among them Marwan Al-Barghouthi and Ahmad Sa’adat. In addition, Israeli occupation authorities continue to detain 11 journalists.
The Most Prominent Crimes and Systematic Practices Carried out by the Israeli Occupation against Palestinian Prisoners
This year marked a significant increase in the number of Palestinian prisoners placed under solitary confinement, reaching 29 prisoners by the end of March 2022, including the six re-captured Palestinian prisoners.
Now more than ever, the international community must abide by its responsibilities under international law and uphold its legal and moral commitment to reclaim and foster the protection of Palestinian human rights within the larger framework of the right to self-determination.
The international community must end its continuous silence and hold the Israeli occupation and apartheid regime accountable for the various grave breaches of international human rights law and humanitarian law to maintain international peace and justice for the sake of the Palestinian people, including Palestinian political prisoners, quest for liberty, justice, and dignity.-PR