Over 190 lawyers and activists urge UN to take action for Palestinian prisoners and detainees

The following letter was endorsed by Charlotte Kates, international coordinator of Samidoun; Joe Catron, U.S. coordinator of Samidoun; and many other activists, lawyers and people of conscience. We republish the press release and full letter below:

190 Arab and International personalities submit a public petition United Nations Human Rights Council calling on Israel to release Palestinian prisoners due to the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

At the initiative of Dr Anis Fawzi Kassim and others, a public petition was submitted today to United Nations Human Rights Council concerning the situation of Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli prisons and detention certers and calling on Israeli authorities to release those incarcerated in Israeli prisons and detention centers for fear for their lives due to the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The petition was signed by 190 international personalities of lawyers, academics, parliamentarians and human rights activists worldwide who expressed their deep concern for the well-being of some five thousand (5,000) Palestinian prisoners and detainees incarcerated in Israeli prisons and detention centers.

The signatories said: We are fully aware of the legal duty of Israel towards these detainees where Israel has been the belligerent occupant. They added: “Israel has been consistently negligent in shoring up its legal responsibilities under international law. In fact, it has utilized its formal organs, such as the courts, to justify its evasive practices of non-compliance with the law. Such failure has been manifestly evident during this pandemic. It has not taken any real step to protect the Palestinian prisoners against infection.”

The petition stated: “Israel remains negligent in and it could be called to account internationally for the “crimes against humanity” based on article (7-1-1-h) of Rome Statute.”

The signatories called on the United Nations and the international community to force Israel to release all Palestinian prisoners and detainees especially children, women and sick and elderly prisoners and provide those prisoners with all necessary equipment and hygienic material to protect them from the infection and to observe their internationally recognized right to health.


Public Statement on the State of  Palestinian Prisoners  and Detainees in  Israeli  Detention Camps

07 May 2020

In these pandemic days of coronavirus (COVID-19) where the world community has not as yet developed any medication except preventive measures, we, a group of concerned lawyers, human rights activists, and academics, are very much distressed with the fate and well-being of approximately five thousand (5,000) Palestinian prisoners and detainees that are being incarcerated in Israeli detention centers.

We are fully aware of the legal duty of Israel towards these detainees where Israel has been the belligerent occupant for the last fifty-two (52) years. Israel has been consistently negligent in shoring up its legal responsibilities under international law. In fact, it has utilized its formal organs, such as the courts, to justify its evasive practices of non-compliance with the law. Such failure has been manifestly evident during this pandemic. It has not taken any meaningful step to protect the Palestinian detainees against infection. They are still incarcerated in overcrowded cells and compounds, where the only preventative measures prescribed for dealing with the pandemic are social distancing and provision of hygiene products and materials.

The detainees include 194 children, 43 women (17 of whom are mothers), 430 administrative detainees (held indefinitely on suspicion without charge or trial), 750 convicted indefinitely, 50 who have been in jail for more than 20 years, 700 are very ill and in need of special medical care and treatment, and six (6)  members of  the Palestinian Legislative Council who were freely elected in the 2006 elections. They are all being held in three centers in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and in 20 detention centers inside Israel in contravention of the Geneva Conventions.

The State of Israel is a state party to the main instruments dealing with human rights, which all provide for the human right to health and protection against contagious diseases. In December 2015, the UN General Assembly voted unanimously to adopt the Nelson Mandela Rules which set out the Standard Minimum Rules for the treatment of prisoners. Those rules provide, inter alia, that “In cases where prisoners are suspected of having contagious diseases, the physician in charge shall call for ’clinical isolation and elaborate treatment’ of the infected prisoners. In addition to the legal obligations imposed on Israel by virtue of the Geneva Convention, the Rome Treaty (to which Israel is not a party) provides that any persecution against any group “on political, racial, national, ethnic … or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law…” is a crime against humanity. In the current situation of global pandemic crisis, Israel’s behavior towards the Palestinian detainees leaves them exposed to the risk of being infected by the disease, which could be categorized as a crime against humanity.

Furthermore, Israel’s continued incarceration of those detainees and prisoners deprives them of access to means of protection against the pandemic infection and creates imminent danger to their lives. Lack of testing kits,instruments and appropriate treatment of the sick, including denial of the entry of personal protective equipment, medication and sanitation equipment among others, are measures that are not allowed under international law.Reliable reports from inside prisons confirm that Israeli authorities have withdrawn 140 items from the Palestinian prisoners’ canteen or prison store, including ordinary disinfectants and cleaning products. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Israel has banned lawyers and family visits to the prisoners. Yet, Israel has released hundreds of Israeli criminal prisoners to reduce the threat of the virus to them but,at the same time, refuses to release any Palestinian prisoner. Israel must realise that the infection does not discriminate between human beings. Their continued systemic and discriminatory policy towards Palestinian prisoners amount to “medical apartheid”.

We, the undersigned, call on Israel, the belligerent occupant, to:

  1. release all Palestinian prisoners and detainees especially in these pandemic times; or in the alternative
  2. release the children, women and sick and elderly prisoners; and, in any event
  3. provide those prisoners with all necessary equipment and hygienic material and to observe their internationally recognized right to health.
Name Position
1. Dr. Mario Martone Theoretical Physics, Postdoctoral Scholar, UT Austin
2. Dr. Emilio Dabed Law Professor, York University, Toronto, Canada
3. Charlotte Kates Coordinator, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
4. Dr. Richard Falk Professor Emeritus, Princeton University, former UN Human Rights rapporteur to Occupied Palestinian Territories
5. Lamis J Deek Attorney and Human Rights Law practitioner, USA
6. Dr. Virginia Tilley University Professor, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
7. Salman Abu Sitta Founder, Palestine Land Society
8. Dr. Ibrahim Fraihat Doha Institute
9. Dr. ​Kamel Hawwash University Professor, Birmingham
10. Dr. Nawaf Tamimi Doha Institute
11. Dr. Falah Salha Advocat, Salha law office
12. ​Marie Crawley MP Ireland, Chair, Sadaka – the Ireland Palestine Alliance
13. Mohammad Tarbush Banker and writer
14. ​Tisetso Magama Africa4Palestine (formerly BDS South Africa)
15. Dr. ​Ramy Abdu Founder and Chairman, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor
16. ​ Kamal Khalaf Al-tawil MD Medical practitioner, Jordan
17. ​Dr.Paola Manduca Professor Genetics, DIBIO-University of Genoa, Italy
18. ​Catalino Castillo Deputy Legislative Assembly of El Salvador.
19. Dr. ​Anton Shulhut Writer and publicist, Acre, Palestine
20. ​Ziad El-Aloul Community and business consultant, Palestine (UK)
21. Obaida El-Modalal Dentist, Palestine (Germany)
22. ​Dr. Rima Khalaf President of Global Organization against Racial Discrimination and Segregation
23. Mohammad Mousa Alansari Secretary of the General Assembly of Palabroad
24. ​Na’eem Jeenah  Afro-Middle East Centre, South Africa
25. Muhammed Desai
26. Hani Hunaidi Financier and Management Consultant, Jordan
27. Dr. Ibrahim Hamami Family Physician, Political activist, UK
28. Dr. Khaled Salaymeh Children Heart Surgeon, Palestine (Jordan)
29. Hisham Abu Mahfouz Engineer, vice chair of Conference for Palestinian Abroad, Palestine (Turkey)
30. Nader Salah Business consultant, Community activist, Palestine (Turkey)
31. Nabila Abu Hantash Financier, Human Rights activist, Palestine (Kuwait)
32. Dr. Wael Shadid Human Rights activist, Strategy planning, Palestine (Qatar)
33. Sami Shahin Human Rights activist, Palestine (Kuwait)
34. Yasser Ali Poet and writer
35. Ali Huwaidi Political activist and writer, Palestine (Lebanon)
36. Mutaz Masloukhi Lawyer and human rights activist, Qatar
37. Dr. Mutaz M. Qafisheh University professor, Hebron, Palestine
38. Dr. Mahmoud Al Hanafi University professor, Shahed Society, Palestine (Lebanon)
39. Mohammad Mattar Advocate, Levant Law Practice (LLP), Lebanon
40. Dr. Abdul Jabbar Said University professor, Palestine (Qatar)
41. Mats Svensson Diplomat and writer, Sweden
42. Maya Majzoub Instructor (Media Studies) Lebanese American University Founder of the “Rally Against Apartheid”, Lebanon
43. Gilles DEVERS Avocat, Lyon, France
44. Adel Manna A Palestinian Historian, al-Quds
45. Adi Shosberger Medical Aid Without Borders – Yael
46. Atallah Said OBE British Palestinian Policy Council
47. Rania Madi Badil, Bethlehem (Geneva)
48. Georges Henri Beauthier Avocat, Brussels
49. Dr. Khaled Hroub University professor, Cambridge.
50. Khaled Shouli Avocat, Jordan (France)
51. Iman Aburous Global Organization against Racial Discrimination & Segregation
52. Dr. Mohammed Samhouri Palestinian economist
53. Sari Zuayter Architect, Jordan
54. Prof Suleiman Sharkh University of Southampton, UK
55. Jeanne Mirer President, International Association of Democratic Lawyers; Co-Chair, International Committee, National Lawyers Guild (US)
56. Lora Lucero Retired US lawyer, National Lawyers Guild
57. Sabah al-Mukhtar Arab Lawyers Network (UK)
58. Divya Babbula CUNY School of Law, Class of 2022
59. Jim Lafferty Fellow of the Institute for the Humanities at the University of Southern California, USA
60. Professor Bill Bowring Barrister, Director of the LLM/MA in Human Rights, Birkbeck University, London (UK)
61. Stephen Laudig Hawaii State Bar, Hawaiian Society of Law and Politics, National Lawyers Guild, United States Supreme Court Bar
62. Richard J. Harvey Barrister
63. Osamu Niikura Professor emeritus and Attorney at Law, Aoyama Gakuin University
64. Yevgenii Gerasymenko Ukrainian Association of Democratic Lawyers
65. Yiannis Rachiotis Hellenic Union of Progressive Lawyers
66. Serife Ceren Uysal Progressive Lawyers Association (Turkey)
67. Hasan Tarique Chowdhury Democratic Lawyers Association of Bangladesh (DLAB)
68. Fabio Marcelli Director of the Institute of International Legal Studies of the National Research Council, Rome
69. Thanh Le Vietnam Lawyers Association
70. Lennox S Hinds Professor Emeritus of Criminal Justice, Rutgers University
71. Joe Catron International Solidarity Movement; Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
72. Muhammad Masaud Ghani Democratic Lawyers Association of Pakistan
73. Beth S. Lyons Alternate delegate to UN, International Association of Democratic Lawyers
74. Dr Ilan Pappe Professor of History, Director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies, University of Exeter
75. Eitan Bronstein Aparicio Eitan Bronstein Aparicio, De-Colonizer Www.de-colonizer.org
76. Prof. Haim Bresheeth Professorial Research Associate SOAS University of London
77. Haydee Dijkstal

Barrister, 33 Bedford Row Chambers
78. Professor Oren Ben-Dor Philosopher, unaffiliated
79. Zuhair Abu Shayeb Poet and Writer, Palestine (Jordan)
80. Khalid Turaani Human Rights and Community Activist, USA
81. Professor Nadim Rouhana Tufts University, Canada
82. George T. Abed Scholar in Residence, Institute of International Finance
83. Dr. Basheer M. Nafi Historian, London
84. Dr. Ahmad Al Mughrabi Legal Consultant, Istanbul
85. Mustafa .M .Nasrallah Lawyer, Jordan
86. Dr. Azmi Bishara Thinker, writer and Philosopher, Doha Institute and Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, Qatar
87. Maram Nabulsi Lawyer, Jordan
88. Simaan Khoury President of Palestinian Union in Latin America, El Silvador
89. Adel Turjman Union of Palestinians in Latin America
90. Dr. Hasan Khreisheh Deputy Speaker of Palestinian Legislative Council
91. Dr Moayad Al-Masri Member of Palestinian Legislative Council
92. Abdul Rahman Zaidn Member of Palestinian Legislative Council
93. Saif Abu Keshek Political Activist, Spain
94. Dr. Mohammad Olwan Professor Emeritus, Petra University, Jordan
95. Rabei Hamzeh Lawyer, Jordan
96. ​Linda Patricia Abuchaibe Writer, Member of Palestine National Council, Columbia
97. ​Suad Marcos Poet and Writer, Nicaragua
98. ​Ricardo Muhrez Mufdi Union of Palestinians in Latin America
99. Omar Mofeed Student activism University of Westminster London
100. Dr Aziz Dweik Chair of the Palestine Legislative Counsel, Palestine
101. Dr. Ahmad Al Khalidi, Former Miniter of Justice, Palestine
102. Khalil Assaf Chair of Independent Personalities in West Bank, Palestine
103. Issa Al Jaabari Former Minister of Local Government, Palestine
104. Mohamed Bargouthi Former Minister of Justice, Palestine
105. Dr. Maryam Saleh Former Minister of Women’s Affairs in the Government
106. M. Abdul Rahman Zaidan Former Minister of Works and Housing
107. Ahmed Atoun Member of Palestine Legislative Counsel, Palestine
108. Muhammad Totah Member of Palestine Legislative Counsel, Palestine
109. Samira Halayqah Journalist, Palestine
110. Mahmoud al-Khatib Palestine
111.  Anwar Zaboun Palestine
112. A Khaled Tafesh Dhouib Palestine
113. A Muhammad al-Tal Palestine
114. Khaled Saeed Yahya Poet, Palestine
115. Mohamed Maher Badr Palestine
116. Riad Raddad Member of Palestine Legislative Counsel, Palestine
117. Ahmed Al-Haj Ali Palestine
118. Yasser Mansour Palestine
119. Dr. Hatem Qafisheh Palestine
120. Dr. Nasser Abdel-Jawad Palestine
121. Imad Nofal Palestine
122. Fathi Qaraawi Palestine
123. Ahmed Mubarak Palestine
124. Dr. Omar Abdel Razek, Former Minister of Finance, Palestine
125. Basim Al Zaearir Palestine
126. Father Manuel Musallam Head of the Christian World Department in the PLO, Palestine
127. Dr. Mahmoud Al-Ramahi, G. Secretary of Palestine Legislative Council, Palestine
128. Dr. Ayman Daraghmeh Palestine
129. Hosni Al-Burini Palestine
130. Mona Mansour Palestine
131. Samir Alqadi Palestine
132. Dr. Ibrahim Abu Salem Palestine
133. Dr. Basem Naim Former Minister of Health, Palestine
134. Isebel Lourenco Human Rights Activist, Researcher, Portugal
135. Prof. Berenice Bento Department of Sociology, UnB, Brasilia
136. Dr. Ahmed Shehada President of Brazil Palestine, Institute, IBRASPAL, Brazil
137. Prof. Alfredo Feres Neto Associate Professor, University of Brazilia, Brazil
138. Dr Munther Rajab Medical practitioner, Germany
139. Anuar Majluf Lawyer, CEO of Palestinian Community, Chile
140. Nadia Silhi Law PhD student, University of Edinburgh
141. Douglas Kristopher Smith Instructor at the Catholic University of Valparaiso, Chile
142. Mauricio Amar Professor of Arab Studies Center Eugenio Chahuan, of Chile
143. Luz Gómez García Univeristy Professor, Center of Arabic Studies, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain
144. Alicia Alonso Merino Lawyer Spain/Researcher OVIC-Chile
145. Ana Manero Salvador Public International Law Professor, University Carlos III (Spain)
146. Aurora Mesto Heredia PhD on Human Rights, University Carlos III (Spain)
147. Dr. Isaías Barreñada Professor at Madrid Complutense University, Spain
148. Rodrigo Karmy Bolton Professor, University of Chile
149. Marcela Chahuan Zedan Professor at Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez and Universidad de Chile.
150. Prof. Ricardo Marzuca Professor, Arab Studies Center Eugenio Chahuan, Univeristy of Chile
151. Felipe Chahuan Professor Emiratus, Faculty of Law, University of Chile (Chile)
152. Bárbara Sepúlveda Hales President Association of Feminist Lawyers of Chile
153. John Minto Political Human Rights activist,  New Zealand
154. Philip McFedries Political Human Rights activist,  New Zealand
155. Marcela Chahuan Zedan Professor at Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, Universidad de Chile
156. Andrea Giadach Lecturer, Drama School, University of Valparaiso, Chile
157. Leonora Beniscelli Contreras PhD (c) and Lecturer, University Alberto Hurtado, Chile
158. Fuad Chahin Valenzuela lawyer, former MP, Chile
159. Liliana Cordova-Kaczerginski Cofounder of International Jewish anti-Zionist Network IJAN
160. Alaa Skafi Lawyer, Palestine
161. Dr. Khaireddin Abdul Rehman Former Palestine Ambassador (Palestine)
162. Basem Saffouri Human Resources Development, Kuwait (Palestine)
163. Hilmi Bilbaisi Political Activist, Palestine (Jordan)
164. Mohammed Meshenish Human rights and community activist,
165. Yousef Sabri Planning Specialist – Kuwait
166. Prof. Fouad Beseiso Former Governor Palestine Monetary Authority,
167. Ola Al Abed Founder and Chairman, Rajeaa Center, Jordan
168. Dr. Ahmad Muhaisen Architect and Political Activist, Palestine (Germany)
169. Sami Shahin BDS Movement, Canada
170. Yasser Ali General manager of Dar Al Awda For Studies & Publishing Co.
171. Nesrin Yousef Odeh Bachelor of Arabic literature

Diploma of Sharia (Islamic Law)

172. Zaher Birawi Journalist and TV Broadcaster, Chairman of EuroPal Forum-London, Palestine (UK)
173. Bassam Khalil Finance Manager, Palestine (Kuwait)
174. Ali Hweidi Association 302 to Defend Refugees Rights – General Director
175. Kathem Husien Ayesh chairman of jordan society of return and refugees
176. Dr. Ghazi Mohammad Khader Researcher in Quality, Palestine
177. Ahmad Mashaal Human Rights Activist, Palestine (Lebanon)
178. Ahmed Nasser Consult Engineer, Sweden
179. Dr. Ziad Abulaban Professor Arabic language, Jordan
180. Bensalem Abdelhamid Former Member of Parliament, Algeria
181. Zaki Bany Ershead Political activist, Jordan
182. Dr. Ribhi Halloum Politician, Former Palestinian Ambassador, Palestine (Jordan)
183. Prof. Mohsen Saleh General Manager, Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies & Consultations
184. Prof.  Ahmad Nufal Political Science Professor, Palestine (Jordan)
185. Yasser kaddoura Howiyya – The National Project for the Preservation of Palestinian Family Roots – General Manager
186. Ayman T. Abualrub Dentist and Oral surgeon, Jordan
187. Munther Zeidan Management Consultant, Qatar
188. Rajab Chamlakh Political and community activist, Palestine (UK)
189. Dr. Sabri Samira Political Scientist, Director of MENA institution for new societies, Istanbul Turkey
190. Dr. Mohamed Yaser Amro Education and Management Consultant, Qatar
191. Bassam Tablieh Civil and Human Rights Solicitor, Syria (UK)
192. Hussein Abu Hussein Civil and Human Rights Lawyer, Palestine
193. Adnan Al-Sabah Civil and Human Rights Solicitor, Palestine (UK)
194. Dr Anis Kassim The Palestine Yearbook of International Law, Lawyer, Jordan