Visiting the families of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jail yesterday, GUE/NGL MEPs heard about the deteriorating conditions inside Israeli jails and denials of family visitation rights.

MEP Neoklis Sylikiotis, chair of the European Parliament Delegation for Relations with Palestine (D-PAL), called for Israel to respect international law in regards to Palestinian prisoners:

“Arbitrary detention, solitary confinement, medical negligence, denial of family visits and torture were among the complaints we heard from the families of Palestinian prisoners that are also documented by human rights organisations. Israel must stop these illegal practices that violate international law.”

“Hundreds of prisoners are currently held under Israel’s so-called practice of administrative detention. This means they are detained indefinitely, without charge and without due process. Palestinians who are formally charged receive their sentence from a military court, which is slanted against them. There is no justice in an inherently unjust occupation.”

There are over 6000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails including about 300 children and eleven members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). GUE/NGL has consistently called for their release and has recently highlighted the cases of PLC member Khalida Jarrar and human rights defender Salah Hamouri, both placed under the so-called administrative detention, held without charge or due process.

Italian MEP Eleonora Forenza conveyed what she heard about the treatment of women:

“There are currently 55 Palestinian females held in Israeli prisons and detention facilities, including 12 girls and 16 mothers. I’ve heard from the families of prisoners the brutality of their arrest process as well as conditions inside Israeli interrogation, detention and prison centres and even hospitals while in custody.”
“Israel ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women to no effect for Palestinian women. The accounts of torture in Israeli jails are distressing. I urge the EU to set up an official investigation mission focused on Israel’s treatment of Palestinian women prisoners and to support the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation so that the officials responsible are held to account.”
Basque MEP Josu Juaristi called also for the release of elected Palestinian parliamentarians detained for their political opinions:

“There are currently 12 elected members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) held by Israel for their political opinions or political affiliation. This assault on democracy has been one of the tools used by Israel to undermine Palestinian institutions.”

“The European Union can and must do much more to pressure Israel to release PLC members and support the role of this parliamentary organ that has been paralysed for too long.”

“PLC members are not alone among those prosecuted for their opinions. Numerous human rights defenders, among them Salah Hamouri, are currently behind bars under appalling conditions.”

“The statistics of the occupation are terrible. Israel has arrested 800,000 Palestinians in 50 years. In my previous mission to Palestine, and in this last one, I have had the opportunity to talk to the relatives of many Palestinian political prisoners. We hope to bring their voice back,” Juaristi concluded.

GUE/NGL MEPs are currently on a four-day mission to the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. You can find here their full schedule. 

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