Jonathan Fryer

The Plight of Palestinian Detainees

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 13th December, 2012

palestinian_children_prisonersThe State of Israel has a shameful record when it comes to violating International Law, not least the Geneva Conventions and other aspects of the Law of Belligerency, especially relating to its occupation and settlement of Arab lands conquered in 1967. It has got away with this because the United States refuses to take any action to stop it — a state of affairs Washington will one day come to regret. But one aspect of Israel’s policies which has received comparatively little attention has been its treatment of Palestinian and other Arab prisoners. This was the subject of an international conference organised by the Arab League, in cooperation with the government of Iraq, in Baghdad this week. Even someone as relatively well-informed on Middle Eastern affairs as myself was shocked by some of the evidence presented there, notably in testimonies from former detainees — men. women and children. Torture is not uncommon and other forms of abuse and humiliation are rampant in Israeli facilities housing Palestinian and other Arab prisoners. Young children are sometimes held in solitary confinement, as well as as being physically and psychologically abused, and adequate medical care for sick or injured prisoners is routinely withheld; the usual “treatment” for any ailment is one paracetamol tablet. It is time that the international community shamed or forced Israel into improving its behaviour, including further settlement building, the demolition of Arabs’ homes, the ethnic cleansing that is going on in East Jerusalem, the uprooting of Palestinians’ olive trees and the occupation of Palestine itself. Now that Palestine has been granted non-member observer status at the UN, it is in a stronger position  to seek redress through international institutions, but it will need strong support from European states and elsewhere, as well as its allies in the Middle East and North Africa, Civil society needs to be involved as well, as it was in the campaign against apartheid in South Africa. Netanyahu, Lieberman and other leaders of Israel’s current nasty, racist right-wing government need to make radical changes otherwise one day they will find themselves hauled before the ICC in The Hague, and rightly so.

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