PA calls for international action on prisoners
Published Tuesday 08/05/2012 (updated) 10/05/2012 10:02
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Authority cabinet on Tuesday called on the international community to immediately intervene on behalf of hunger-striking prisoners in Israeli jails.
Hundreds of Palestinians are on hunger strike in protest of poor prison conditions. Two of them are believed to be seriously ill after refusing food since late February.
Ministers said in a statement they held Israel "fully responsible" for the safety of the hundreds of prisoners who have been on hunger strike for over two months.
On April 17, over 1,000 prisoners joined a group of hunger-strikers protesting detention without charge. Around 2,000 are now taking part in the strike protesting prison conditions.
The PA called for the release of all prisoners, "as soon as possible, without any discrimination," particularly veteran prisoners, women and children, and members of the Palestinian parliament.
The cabinet said it backed the prisoners' demands for certain rights like an end to collective punishment, "insulting" strip searches, and the use of solitary confinement.
The call for international parties to take action came as the European Union offices in the Palestinian territory expressed concern about the deteriorating condition in Israeli jails.
"The EU requests the Government of Israel to make available all necessary medical assistance and to allow family visits as a matter of urgency," the EU missions in Ramallah and Jerusalem said.
The EU also stressed it opposition to Israel's policy of detention without charge -- under which Bilal Diab, 27, from Jenin, and Thaer Halahla, 33, from Hebron are being held.
Israel's Supreme Court on Monday rejected the appeals of Diab and Halahla who have refused food since Feb. 29.
"Detainees have the right to be informed of the reasons for their detention and be subject to a fair trial without undue delay," the missions said in a statement.
Also Monday, Physicians for Human Rights -- Israel said Israeli authorities rejected its appeal for Diab's family to visit him.
"Allowing family visits to people at such deteriorated medical condition, some that can die any day, is a requirement emphasized in medical ethics and in Israel's Patient Right Law. In addition to mental support, consultation with the family can save lives," the group said.
The medical organization also said Israel rejected its request for independent doctors to visit the hunger-strikers, ruling they would only admit doctors on a case-by-case basis.
"It is expected that the conduct of the (Israeli Prison Service) will necessitate PHR Israel's need to appeal to the courts for every additional visit," the group said.
The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem says 308 Palestinians are being held without charge or trial, including two for more than four and a half years.