Organisers: UFree Network and Irish Friends of Palestine
Since 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, more than 700,000 Palestinians have been detained by Israel. This represents approximately 20% of the total population in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), and 40% of all males. Despite prohibition by international law, Israel detains Palestinians in prisons throughout Israel; far from their families. The latter almost never obtain the necessary permits to visit their imprisoned relatives.
Since 1967, Israel has detained 10,000 Palestinian women. Women prisoners endure inhumane conditions including shackling during childbirth and an ongoing lack of gynecological care. Today, 37 female Palestinian prisoners continue to be held in Israeli prisons. Most are elected members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and, thus, are clearly political prisoners.
This Conference on the Plight of Palestinian Prisoners in Israel Prisons was convened by UFree Network and Irish Friends of Palestine on 19th May 2012. We have gathered in Belfast uniting elected representatives, former prisoners and prisoners’ relatives and human rights activists
We heard speeches from former Prisoners and Palestinian human rights activists of the conditions facing Palestinians in Israeli jails.
We learned of
· The detention of Palestinians for more than 5 years without trial.
· The widespread use of solitary confinement for many years at a time
· The denial of family visits for many years on end
· The imprisonment of Palestinian children and on occasions the use of these child prisoners as hostages to pressurise their families.
· Threats and practice of sexual harassment.
· Abduction of elected Palestinian parliamentarians
Conference concludes that the conditions facing Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails constitutes cruel and inhumane treatment and that such conditions breach numerous aspects of international law.
We pledge our support to UFree Network’s international campaign to highlight and challenge the abuse of Palestinian Prisoners human rights and the human rights of their families.
The conference decides to have a working group in cooperation between UFree Network and Irish Friends of Palestine which will be a broad based group in Ireland. From today, we shall be contacting potential members to join this group.
The group will work on the following:
1. To spread awareness about the issue of Palestinian prisoners
2. To exert political pressure on both the Israeli occupation and international governments.
3. To offer appropriate legal support and rehabilitation of former prisoners.
The group shall lobby Parliamentarians, human rights groups and civil society throughout Ireland, in particular to the Irish Government and other European Governments and the European Union, appealing for support for the following actions:
1. Israel should embrace and implement their obligations under International law by
2. Immediately implement the agreement reached with prisoners to end the hunger strike, including an end to solitary confinement and imprisonment without trial
3. The European governments and EU Parliament:
4. Launch and participate in an international solidarity campaign supporting the Rights of Palestinian prisoners and detainees.
5. Establish a European fact-finding mission to examine the living conditions of the prisoners in the Israeli jails.
The Irish Government in particular should:
· Organise its own fact finding mission to visit prisoners and their families to inform itself of conditions in Israeli prisons.
· Report back to Dail Eireann on the outcome of this fact finding mission.
· Take diplomatic action and sanctions against the Israeli government if it fails to honour international conventions and comply with the human rights’ standards in dealing with the prisoners.
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UFree is an independent European-wide human rights network; set up to defend the rights of Palestinian prisoners and detainees