Palestinian Political Prisoners

by MAZIN QUMSIYEH

Seven thousand political prisoners are held by Israel and nearly 4000 of them are on a hunger strike now demanding humane treatment. Human rights organizations are outraged but the US-tax funded Israeli government shrugs its shoulders.

The Israeli minister of "Justice" said it would be OK with him if they all died and he ordered even more repression at the prisons. Israeli minister of health said he is putting Israeli hospitals off limits to sick and dying Palestinian prisoners. "Moderate physical pressure" (AKA torture) is still used by Israel and is taught to US servicemen to deal with resistance to occupation.

The 4th Geneva Convention is supposed to protect civilians in occupied areas. Israel is in violation of just about all of its provisions ranging from collective punishment to transfer of populations (colonization activities) to land confiscation. With regard to prisoners, the fourth Geneva convention is clear: prisoners should not be held outside of the occupied areas and they should be treated humanely.

Israel holds most prisoners outside of the occupied territories and denies them such basic rights as family visits and appropriate housing. Further, contrary to International law, Israel holds nearly 500 child prisoners and nearly 1000 Palestinians are held in so called "administrative detention" (no trials, no charges).

Over 650,000 Palestinian males have gone through Israeli detention at some point in their lives (Gideon Levy in Haaretz). That is over 40% of the male population in the occupied/colonized territories. Israel stripped the native Palestinians of most of their land leaving 5 million as refugees or displaced people. Israel impoverished the remaining Palestinians and squeezed them into large concentration camps with high walls.

All this is made possible by our taxes and by a US veto of over 30 UN security council resolutions. Till how long will the media stay embedded/complicit with these war crimes and crimes against humanity? When will we all say enough is enough! Do we remember "give me liberty or give me death"?

MAZIN QUMSIYEH is an associate professor at Yale University and author of Sharing the Land of Canaan. He can be reached through his website: http://qumsiyeh.org


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