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Palestinian Political Prisoners

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Palestinian Political Prisoners - by Stephen Lendman

The numbers vary but range at any time from over 7,000 to 12,000 or more. In April 2008, the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel cited 11,000, including 345 children and 98 women. Over 1,000 suffered from chronic or other diseases. Around 150 were seriously ill from heart disease, cancer, and other diseases, and 195 or more Palestinians died or were killed in prison since 1967.

As of January 2009, Adalah said about "22,500 individuals were imprisoned or detained in Israeli prisons; around 70% (or 15,750 are) Arabs." Included are 9,735 Palestinians, nearly 80% classified as "security." Of these, 570 were administrative detainees, uncharged by order of an administrative official, not a judge.

Another 20 were so-called "unlawful combatants" under Israel's Unlawful Combatants Law (UCL), saying they're not entitled to POW status under international law because they either took part in hostilities against Israel (directly or indirectly) or belong to a force carrying them out. No proof is needed, only "a reasonable basis for believing" the designation is accurate, and under UCL, detentions can be permanent, without trial or judicial fairness.

According to the Addameer Prisoners' Support and Human Rights Association, since 1967, "over 650,000 have been detained by Israel," about 20% of the total Occupied Territory (OPT) population and 40% of the male population. Most are held in Palestine, but many thousands in Israeli civil and military prisons, in violation of numerous Fourth Geneva provisions, including Article 49 stating:

"....forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons (including prisoners) from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive."

This applies to OPT prisoners, most of whom are political victims of militarized oppression, or in other words, guilty of being Palestinian. In addition, Fourth Geneva states protected persons shall be detained in the occupied territory and, if convicted, serve there sentences therein.

OPT arrests and detentions come under about 1,500 military regulations for the West Bank and over 1,400 for Gaza. The IDF commander issues orders, but new ones aren't revealed until implemented because they're issued any time for any reason, often arbitrarily and capriciously.

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Israeli prisons and military detention facilities are mainly located within Israel's 1948 borders. They include five interrogation centers, six detention/holding facilities, three military detention camps, and about 20 prisons where OPT Palestinians are held.

A secret Facility 1391 at an unknown location is notorious for using severe torture. Gilboa Prison, north of the West Bank, is also believed to administer extreme treatment.

"The location of prisons within Israel and the transfer of detainees to locations within the occupying power's territory are illegal under international law and constitute a war crime."

On June 7, 1967, Military proclamation No. 1 justified them "in the interests of security and public order," weasel words meaning anything. Since then, over 2,900 orders were issued, gravely harming Palestinians' welfare. "These orders serve as justification every time the Israeli authorities arrest a Palestinian...."

They can be held for extended periods, interrogations lasting up to six months, during which time torture, abuse and other degrading treatment is commonplace, against the great majority in custody.

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After interrogation, Palestinians can be detained administratively without charge or tried in military courts where "military orders take precedence over Israeli and international law."

Under Military Order 1530, months may elapse between being charged and trial. The entire process is structured to deny due process and judicial fairness, unlike for most Jews in civil courts.

Activists, protestors and human rights defenders are especially at risk. In July 2008, Israeli authorities, by military order, closed the Nafha Society for the Defense of Prisoners and Human Rights. It's one of several organizations representing Palestinian detainees in Israeli courts and advocates for them in prisons and detention centers.

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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Lendman's work is in the vital area of holding Isr... by JohnPeebles on Saturday, Mar 27, 2010 at 3:01:12 PM
Most Jews in Israel are religiously both Jewish an... by Richard Pietrasz on Sunday, Mar 28, 2010 at 5:20:37 PM