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Al Mezan Condemns Israel’s Arrest of PLC Member Qafisha and Former Minister Al Ja’bari

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25 January 2016 |Reference 5/2016

At approximately 1:00 am on Sunday, 24 January 2016, Israeli forces arrested Hatem Rabah Qafisha, 56, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), and Issa Khairi Al Ja’bari, 48, a former Palestinian Minister of Local Government. The arrests were carried out amidst the continued hunger strike of three Palestinian detainees being held in Israeli prisons. Their strike is being held in protest against their continued administrative detention and the conditions of their detention, that amount to ill-treatment.

Al Mezan Center for Human Righst (Al Mezan) strongly condemns Israel’s arbitrary arrest and detention practices of Palestinians in general and of PLC members and Palestinian leaders in particular. Al Mezan condemns Israel’s continued use of the administrative detention law which, as a sweeping policy used pointedly to destroy the Palestinian social and political fabrics, blatantly violates principles of international law, manipulates the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and violates the human rights of detainees, especially due process rights and the obligations of duty bearers for the treatment of detainees.  

Palestinian detainees and prisoners are subject to harsh conditions in detention and prison where basic requests relating to humanitarian treatment are ignored by Israeli prison administrators. The already difficult conditions are drastically worsened in cold weather, particularly in Hawara, Gush Etzion, and Ofar prisons, where there is no heating system. The conditions in Beer Sheva prison are also reportedly harsh due to both the cold weather and dusty wind that impacts the detainees who are being detained in tents. The detainees lack the necessary blankets, heaters, and heavy clothing for the exposure to such elements. The living condition cause both physical and psychological suffering for the detainees and may affect their health condition, in particular the health of patients.   

Palestinian detainee Mohammed Adeeb Al Qieq, 33, continues his hunger strike for the 61st consecutive day in protest against his administration detention and ill-treatment at Al Jalama interrogation center. The Israeli authorities there attempted to force feed him, but his health condition had already significantly deteriorated and he was referred to Al Afoula Hospital. Al Qieq’s health condition is now critical, as he can’t talk or move his body.

Palestinian detainee Kayed Fawzi Abu Al Rish, 45, from Al ‘Ain refugee camp in Nablus, continues his hunger strike for the 12th consecutive day in protest against the renewal of his administrative detention order for the third time. He conducted a hunger strike that lasted one month, beginning on 5 August 2015, at which point the Israeli authorities pledged to end his administrative detention. Abu Al Rish ended the strike accordingly, but the deal was not implemented on the Israeli side.    

The Jordanian detainee, Abdullah Abu Jaber, 29, continues his hunger strike for the 29th consecutive day in protest against the conditions of his detention. He is asking to spend the rest of his detention period in a Jordanian prison or to be released. He has served two-thirds of his prison-term. It’s worth mentioning that Abu Jaber was detained in 2000 and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Al Mezan strongly condemns Israel’s continued policy of arbitrary arrest and detention of Palestinians; continued sweeping use of administrative detention; and the prevention of detainees to access fair trial and due process rights.

Al Mezan holds the Israeli authorities responsible for the life of Al Qeiq as well as other detainees held in Israeli prisons. The widespread ill-treatment that has been documented in Israeli prisons amounts to violations of the 1955 United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, and the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment adopted in 1988.

Al Mezan calls for recognition of the brutal violations of the rights of Palestinian prisoners and detainees held in Israeli prisons and detention centers. Al Mezan calls on the international community to exert pressure on Israel to provide basic services to Palestinian detainees and prisoners according to international standards. Al Mezan asserts that the silence of the international community and its failure to uphold its legal and moral obligations towards Palestinian prisoners and detainees has encouraged the cycle of flagrant violations both under international humanitarian law and human rights law. Al Mezan asserts that the absence of justice and continued impunity for violations that amount to grave breaches, will lead to further crimes.