Addameer, the Palestinian Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, issued the following statement, marking Palestinian Prisoners’ Day:
On Prisoners Day, Addameer calls on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the grave violations against Palestinian political prisoners
17 April 2015
This past year witnessed an unprecedented level of Israeli violence against Palestinians, including killing over 2,000 civilians in Gaza, demolishing 20,000 homes, displacing more than 500,000 Palestinian at the peak of the attack and arresting 8,000 Palestinians across historic Palestine.
Israel is committing nothing short of a modern-day ethnic cleansing before our eyes; in the continuing quest for full annexation of Palestinian land and the expansion of Israel’s colonial frontier.
The time is more urgent than ever for the international community to hold Israel accountable for its recurring and blatant war crimes against Palestinians, especially those held captive in the Occupation’s jails.
Addameer calls on ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to investigate these crimes in the preliminary investigation and to bring the accused to trial immediately, in light of the exacerbated and worsening conditions.
The Occupation legitimizes the use of administrative detention for the “security of the state.” Since 1967, the Occupation Forces (IOF) issued more than 50,000 administrative detention orders, 24,000 (nearly half) of them between 2000 and 2014. The occupation forces use the policy of administrative detention to maintain control over Palestinian society and undermine self-determination. Administrative detention targets all sectors of society including politicians, academics, students, leaders, journalists, doctors, women, children and human rights defenders. The Occupation’s authorities use administrative detention as a bargaining tool for political gain.
Over 700 administrative detention orders were issued since June 2014, expanding the number of administrative detainees to 550 at its height, the highest number since 2009. This increase in the use of administrative detention, an internationally condemned practice, can be seen as a direct reaction to a 63-day mass hunger strike among administrative detainees in 2014, in which they demanded the end of the policy.
In April 2015, the Occupation’s authorities issued an administrative detention order against Palestine Legislative Council (PLC) member Khalida Jarrar, which brings the number of elected Palestinian legislators in administrative detention to eight. Jarrar was also recently appointed by President Mahmoud Abbas to the Palestinian National Committee for the ICC.
The policy of administrative detention violates article 78 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and denies administrative detainees their guaranteed right to a fair and speedy trial as stated in Article 75 of the Additional Protocol I of the Geneva Convention. The policy of administrative detention also violates articles 9, 10 and 14 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (1966).
According to the Rome Statue, the systematic use of administrative detention is considered a war crime (article 8) and a crime against humanity (article 7).
In 2014, the occupation forces escalated its unstated policy to extra-judicially murder Palestinians during arrest raids. In the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem, the occupation forces killed fourteen civilians during arrest raids into refugee camps, villages and Palestinian cities. All fourteen of those killed during arrest raids were Palestinian youth under the age of thirty.
The extrajudicial murder of civilians is a gross violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention according to Article 147 and a war crime according to Article 8, Item A,I2 of the Rome Statue.
Widespread torture continues to be used against Palestinian detainees. Virtually every Palestinian arrested by the IOF has been subjected to psychological or physical torture or ill-treatment, including severe beatings, stress positions, solitary confinement, verbal abuse and threats of sexual violence. In 2014, Addameer documented two cases of prisoner’s death that resulted directly from torture. Wa’el Mustafa, a 39-year old Jordanian citizen, was killed by brutal physical torture in interrogation in August 2014. He was arrested at a peaceful demonstration in Yafa that called for the end of the war on Gaza. Ra’ed Abd Al Jabari, from Hebron was killed during transfer from Eshel Prison to Be’er Al Sabe’ Prison (Beersheva). There have been 73 Palestinians killed by torture since 1967.
Moreover, during the mass 63-day hunger strike in the first half of 2014, the Israeli Knesset attempted to pass a bill to allow the force-feeding of protesting Palestinian detainees, effectively an attempt to sanction torture on an industrial scale. Torture is considered both a war crime and crime against humanity as outlined in International Humanitarian Law and International Criminal Law, specifically the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Preamble of the Rome Statue, article 7 and article 8, the Geneva Convention I and III article 12, third Geneva Convention 17 and 87 and the fourth Geneva Convention article 32.
The transfer of Palestinian detainees by the IOFis an ongoing practice. Transfer of protected persons from occupied territory into the occupying state, categorized as “unlawful deportation or transfer” is a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention (Article 147) and a war crime as established by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (Article 8). At the end of 2014, only 544 of the 6,000 detainees were detained in the occupied territories. Over 800,000 Palestinians have been arrested and the majority of them forcibly transferred to prisons outside of the occupied territory, limiting their access to their families, legal support and communities as well as strips them of their rights under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Considering the summary of the major violations outlined above, Addameer calls on the ICC Prosecutor to immediately open an investigation into the case of the prisoners, and bring those who have tortured, murdered, forcibly transferred and ordered the arbitrary detention of Palestinians to be held to account in the International Criminal Court.