Human rights issue regarding Israel-Palestinian conflict has been a comprehensive subject varying from application of military law on the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) to degrading prison conditions of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Nowadays, the latter become the focal point regarding human rights in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. To Palestinians, prisoner conditions violate basic human rights. Administrative detention and ill-treatment of prisoners like lack of due process, prolonged military confinement have been the focal points.
Nearly 1.500 Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli jails are on hunger strike. It is estimated that the strike has been one of the biggest protests in recent years.
By declaring an open hunger strike on April 2017, prisoners protest conditions in the prisons and demand from Israel to make fundamental changes, to improve those conditions.
The demands are an end to solitary confinement, changing restrictions regarding family visits and making family visits regular, improving medical care, an end to administrative detention.
To Palestinians, these detainees are political prisoners. There are also other Palestinian prisoners that are detained under administrative detention. However, to Israel, these detainees commit crimes against the state. Thus generally speaking Palestinian prisoners have been accused of offenses against the state. But as a matter of fact majority of these prisoners are being held without charges or trial.
Actually military law can be recognized as the main source of conflict. Because it has been Military Order that provides grounds for detaining Palestinians without charge or trial including children as young as 12. Administrative detention that has been most criticized applications in the Israeli jails, allows Israel to hold suspect without charge for six-months intervals. Relying on secret evidence for administrative detention is another criticized subject. Furthermore these prisoners have to be tried in the Palestinian legal system however Israeli military courts are the legal “arena” where they are tried. Prosecution in military courts has been problematic; according to some human rights organizations even a minimum standard for a fair trial are not met. Another problem is that Palestinian prisoners routinely are interrogated without presence of lawyer.
International law encompasses essential international human rights documents to improve life of individuals internationally like the International Covenant on civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UN Conventions Against Torture). Mainly they prohibit cruel and inhuman treatment. In addition to this, the former stipulates that imprisonment has to aim “the reform and social readaption of prisoners”.
Such important documents can be used to figure out current Israeli policies regarding Palestinian prisoners. To give as an instance Israel is a party to ICCPR and Tel Aviv violates some of its articles like fair trial rights, arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment. It has to be mentioned that Israel ratified the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 1991.
Marwan Barghouti recognized as the future leader of Fatah, leads the strike. He has been in prison since 2004 on five accounts of murder. He is placed under solitary confinement for calling the strike. To Barghouti, going on hunger strike is the only option due to the fact that all other options are exhausted. To Israel, Barghouti’s calling for strike is mutiny that is against to Israeli prison conditions.
To conclude, the latest Palestinian strike has both legal and political dimensions. Both of them have put heavy burdens on the Palestinians like jurisdiction under military law and disaffecting peace process. Moreover Barghouti’s inclusion is an important fact that raises awareness of the international community.