UN rights expert concerned over Israel prison conditions

[JURIST] Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur of the occupied Palestinian territory [official website], said Wednesday that he is "appalled" [press release] by "continuing human rights violations in Israeli prisons." Israeli prison authorities have taken punitive measures against the more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners who began a hunger strike on April 17 in protest of their treatment. Falk called for Israel to comply with international standards on how to treat prisoners on hunger strike, including allowing family members to visit them. Falk further pointed out that approximately 20 percent of the total Palestinian population, including 40 percent of the male Palestinian population, have been detained in an Israeli prison at some point. Falk stated that Israel's use of administrative detention, which allows Israel to hold the individuals without charge or trial for up to six months, also does not comply with international standards. Israel prison officials state that all of the individuals on hunger strike have access to water and are in a "satisfactory health condition" [BBC report].

Tension continues between Israel and Palestine. Last month the Office of Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official websites] said that the ICC lacks jurisdiction [JURIST report] to investigate allegations of crimes committed in Palestine during the 2008-2009 Gaza conflict [JURIST news archive]. In February Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged Israel to change [JURIST report] its policies of forbidding Palestinians from traveling through and living in Gaza and the West Bank. Its report demonstrated that due to the policies, families are kept separate since some are trapped inside Israel while their family members are forbidden from entering. In January of last year, UN officials alleged [JURIST report] that Israeli authorities engaged in illegal activities including the killing of four Palestinians. In 2010, Israeli Ambassador to the UN called for an end [JURIST report] to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] investigation into Israeli actions during the 2008-2009 Gaza campaign. Early in 2010, the UN extended [JURIST report] the time limit for Israelis and Palestinians to finish their investigation into alleged human rights violation committed during the Gaza conflict after it initially adopted a resolution [JURIST report] giving them three months. In 2009, the UN found evidence [JURIST report] that both parties committed war crimes.

 

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