International Women's Day Action: Release Palestinian Children, Women and Seniors from Israeli prisons!

URGENT ACTION 

CALL THE U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT, 202-647-4000

"Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, peace, and justice in the world" --U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Freedom for children, women and the elderly

In recognition of International Women's Day, the women of the International League for Peace and Freedom U.S. Section demand that children, women and the elderly be released from Israeli jails in a good faith gesture toward the Palestinian people. As a Nuclear Weapon state, Israel is not abiding by Human Rights resolutions, International Laws, and resolutions of the United Nations.  This is a dangerous precedent to set. 

While we believe that all political prisoners must be released from jails, we find it urgent to ask our elected representatives to insist that the US State Department put pressure on Israel to release the Palestinian children, women and elderly from jails immediately. Under no circumstances should it be permissible to incarcerate Children.

We also seek better facilitation of family visits, recognizing that visitation should be allowed to take place in a quicker, more dignified manner. WILPF U.S. does not believe mothers, fathers and children of prisoners should be required to pass through extensive territorial barriers while visiting and awaiting the release of their family members. Although the U.S. Government declares commitment to family values, it has remained inactive regarding such violations the Israeli Government makes against human rights.  

How many Palestinian prisoners are there?

More than 9,000 Palestinians are being held in Israel.  The vast majority of these men women and children are kept in facilities of the Israel Prisons Service, and a small number in Israeli Defense Forces facilities (Figures provided by the Israeli government authorities).

As of January 2007, Israel is holding approximately 800 Palestinians in administrative detention. This means prisoners are being detained without a specific accusation, hearing, or trial, and frequently without benefit of counsel.  Children, awarded no political voice, are especially in jeopardy (1). Recent reports show, “There are 317 children from 16 to 18 years of age and 38 children under the age of 16 in detention at this time” (2).

 

Most prisoners have been arbitrarily imprisoned or detained for no legitimate security reason. Their desire for political expression or peaceful resistance, or simply their Palestinian nationality, has been subject to the same punishment that criminals receive.  Further, this inhumane treatment exacerbates the rights and ability of many individuals to visit family members in a time of fear and oppression. 

Holding Palestinian administrative detainees inside Israel is a flagrant breach of international law, which prohibits the transfer of detainees outside of occupied territory. Prior to transfer of some of the territory to the Palestinian Authority, some of the detainees were held in the Occupied Territories, but were subsequently transferred to detention facilities inside Israel. As a result, the closure imposed on the Occupied Territories severely harmed the right of detainees to family visitation and to meet with their attorney (2).

How are Palestinian children treated in Israeli prisons?

The Palestinian Prisoner's Club has noted that 50% of those arrested and detained by Israel since September 2000 are children under the age of 18. Children as young as 13 years old are not only being held in Israeli prisons, but are housed with the adult prisoner population. Children are routinely held in detention centers under inhumane conditions. Almost all child detainees have reported some form of torture or maltreatment.  These accounts include physical beatings, stay many painful positions resulting from overcrowding, psychological abuse, threats and other forms of intimidation.

How are Palestinian women treated in Israeli prisons?

Most Palestinian women being held prisoner for political reasons were previously housed with the general Israeli prison population in Neve Terze.  They shared quarters with drug addicts, prostitutes, and other hardened prisoners.  It was not until after reported hunger strikes that many women were transferred to Telmond prison.  Some women, however, including several administrative detainees, remain incarcerated at Neve Terze.

For most [women prisoners], contact visits with children and other family members are permitted twice every six months. However, as a condition for the visits, women are required to submit to full body searches in the nude. This is a condition most have rejected. …Denial of medical services has been used to punish those who protest the [brutal] conditions of their incarceration.

Does Israel subject Palestinian prisoners to torture, and other forms of cruel and degrading treatment?

Yes.  Palestinian prisoners are routinely tortured in Israeli jails. A1999 Israel High Court decision outlawing some forms of physical mistreatment of Palestinian prisoners has not ended Israel's physical and psychological abuse of Palestinian detainees.

Why is the release of Palestinian prisoners so important?

No issue illustrates Israel's denial of freedom to the Palestinians more pointedly than that of political prisoners. Israel's imprisonment and detention of Palestinians is a manifestation of its failure to abide by international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention, under which administrative detentions and imprisonment inside Israel are both illegal. Israel's failure to release Palestinian political prisoners and its continued arbitrary arrest of Palestinian civilians leads us to make the unfortunate conclusion that Israel views itself above the law and the Palestinians beneath it.

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