Al Mezan Center for Human Rights issued the following statement on 4 August, regarding the case of Bilal Kayed, as Kayed entered his 52nd day of hunger strike. The center urged action to address the urgent situation of Palestinian prisoners as the collective hunger strike grows to larger numbers demanding Kayed’s release and an end to the ongoing Israeli attacks and violations of the rights of Palestinian prisoners.
Al Mezan Condemns Israel’s Ill-Treatment of Palestinian Detainees and Calls on the International Community to Intervene
Israeli authorities continue the practices and policies of ill-treatment of Palestinian detainees held in Israeli prisons in the violation of international law and the safeguards in relation to the right to a fair trial. The Israeli judicial system blatantly disregarded such principles by referring Bilal Kayed, 35, for administrative detention after his 14-and-a-half-year prison sentence was served. Kayed’s continued imprisoned without charge or trial sets a dangerous precedent of extended and indefinite imprisonment for all Palestinian prisoners.
Kayed was referred for administrative detention in accordance with an order issued by the Israeli Ofar Court in a session held on Tuesday, 5 July 2015. The court upheld Kayed’s administrative detention order issued by the Military commander of the West Bank. Bilal Kayed went on an open hunger strike, lasting so far for 49 consecutive days, in protest of his detention. Tens of detainees including Ahmed Sa’adat, the Secretary General of the Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine, launched hunger strikes. Stripped of their rights, protest is often the last resort tool that Palestinian detainees have available to push back against ill-treatment and injustice. The Israeli authorities recently confronted the hunger strikers by isolating the detainees, in an attempt to break-up the protest, rather than uphold the rights of prisoners and detainees.
Last month has witnessed tens of Israeli night raids within several prisons. The Israeli forces broke into prison departments and cells, assaulted detainees and sabotaged their personal belongings. The Israeli policy of medical negligence also continued throughout prisons today. The rates of administrative detention, solitary confinement, arrest of women and children, imposition of high financial fines, and prevention of detainees from receiving family visits, have all increased.
Israel’s practices against Palestinian detainees held in Israeli prisons are not only considered violations of their rights related to the treatment of detainees, but also directly impact their right to life and physical safety, e.g. in the death of Arafat Jaradat, 30, on 23 February 2013.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (Al Mezan) emphasizes that Israel is under an obligation to respect the international standards and principles relating to the protection and care of Palestinian detainees such as 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. Palestinian detainees must also be moved to the occupied territory in compliance with the relevant rules of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Al Mezan calls for the immediate release of Bilal Kayed and calls on the international community to uphold its legal and moral obligations towards Palestinian civilians in the occupied Palestinian territory. Al Mezan also calls on the international community to promptly intervene to exert pressure on Israel to respect principles of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Al Mezan calls for the creation of a neutral investigative committee to investigate Israeli violations committed against Palestinian detainees held in Israeli prisons.
Al Mezan urges civil society organizations and human rights defenders around the world to voice solidarity with Palestinian detainees and call on governments to pressure Israel to respect international law and the principles of justice.