Palestinian Prisoners

Refers to Palestinian prisoners from the Occupied Palestinian Territories who are tried by Israel, usually in military courts, where the conviction rate is over 99%. While Israel maintains that those in detention are "security prisoners," engaged in criminal acts or posing a threat to Israel’s security, Palestinian rights groups maintain that a majority are political prisoners (including political leaders, as well as hundreds who have organized unarmed demonstrations), or are held for acts such as stone-throwing, and consider them prisoners of war. In 1999, Israel’s Supreme Court outlawed torture in its interrogation methods of detainees and in 2000, Israel publicly admitted that it had used torture during interrogations of detainees in the First Intifada. According to the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, some forms of torture continue to be employed during detainee interrogations. Between 1967 and 2013, Israel arrested and detained over 750,000 Palestinians; roughly 40% of the male population. As of October 2014, 5,447 Palestinians were held in Israeli detention centers, including 163 children. Included in that number are 457 Palestinians held in administrative detention without charge or trial, which is the highest number since 2009. These numbers were much higher during both the First and the Second Intifada. Palestinian prisoners have found ways to resist their own conditions of imprisonment (as well as policies such as administrative detention) via hunger strikes, some of which lasted close to 80 days. Prisoners have organized within the prisons’ highly intricate systems of education and self-governance. Palestinian prisoners are at the emotional heart of the conflict for Palestinians; nearly every Palestinian has either been in prison, or has an imprisoned relative. Prisoner swaps are common in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. See "Detainees and Prisoners," B’Tselem; and "Palestinian prisoners: Why they count," The Economist, Aug 17, 2013. See also "Joint NGO Submission on Israeli Suppression of Palestinian Human Rights Activism against the Wall," Addameer, Stop the Wall, National Lawyers Guild, Feb 4, 2010; and "The Hour of Sunlight: One Palestinian’s Journey from Prisoner to Peacemaker," Sami Al Jundi and Jen Marlowe, Nation Books, 2011. For a documentary film about the history of the military court system, see "The Law in these Parts," Ra’anan Alexandrowicz, 2012. See also infographic "History Repeats Itself: Hunger Strikes in 1989 South African and 2012 Palestine," Visualizing Palestine.

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