Prisoners representatives: Israel not honoring commitments to detainees

Ma’an – 11 Nov 2011
www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=435821

Representatives of Palestinians detained in Israel said on Thursday that Israel has failed to honor agreements to ease prisoners conditions.

Palestinian Authority Minister of Prisoners Issa Qaraqe said the situation of Palestinian prisoners was worse than before the Oct. 18 prisoner exchange between Israel and Hamas. The deal also included an end to solitary confinement and punitive measures, he said.

Director of the parliamentary prisoners’ committee Khalida Jarar said Israel has detained 110 Palestinians since the deal was made.

The comments were made at a news conference at the Government Media Center in Ramallah on Thursday, where representatives spoke out on the situation of some 5,000 Palestinians still in Israeli jail after 477 were released in the first stage of the swap deal three weeks ago.

In late September, detainees launched a 3-week mass hunger strike in jails across Israel to protest worsening conditions. Prisoners suspended the strike on Oct. 17 after they said Israel had announced it would meet a key demand by ending the practice of solitary confinement.

But since ending the strike, isolation cells continue, prisoners’ visiting periods were not increased, and they are still barred from moving between cells to see fellow prisoners, representatives said Thursday.

Qaraqe condemned Israel’s sentencing of Fatah-affiliated lawmaker Jamal Tirawi to 30 years in jail on Oct. 31. Tirawi was already held in Israeli jail for over four years as his trial was postponed repeatedly.

The international community has a responsibility toward democratic representatives jailed in Israel, as they were elected in a national election in 2006 declared free by international observers, Qaraqe said.

Israel’s military prosecution admits that the measures against prisoners is for political, rather than security, reasons, Qaraqe said.

Director of Palestinian Prisoners Society Fares Qaddura said none of the charges against the 23 elected representatives in Israeli jail could be proved, and the sentencing of Tirawi contradicted an agreement to free the lawmaker between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Jarar noted that the Inter-Parliamentary Union adopted resolutions calling for the release of Palestinian members of parliament detained in Israel in April 2011, and union delegates were prevented from visiting prominent lawmakers Ahmad Saadat and Marwan Barghouthi.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union should ban Israeli politicians from entering member countries to pressure them to release the Palestinian legislators, Jarrar said.

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