Sunday, December 17, 2017

West Bank, Gaza mark Palestinian Prisoners‘ Day


By Bao Yen - April 18, 2016
TAGS:
Section: [Main News] [Behind Bars]
Tags: [Ramallah] [Gaza] [prisoners] [protests]

Hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets across the West Bank and Gaza strip Sunday to commemorate Palestinian Prisoners' Day.

In Ramallah, a rally marking the Prisoners' Day was organized by a number of organizations including the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners' Affairs, the Palestinian Prisoner's Society, the Center for Defending Freedoms, and the Ramallah governor's office.

Palestinians gathered on the streets of Ramallah waving Palestinian flag and posters of Palestinians incarcerated by Israel, among them Marwan Barghouti, Fatah leader and MP, who is often referred to as the "Palestinian Mandela," Al Jazeera reported.

Issa Qarage, Chairman of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners' Affairs said Israel's arrest and detention of Palestinians violates prisoners' rights and is a crime against humanity.

"We will spare no effort to have them released by either turning to international bodies, like the International Criminal Court, or by continuing to shed light on their plight with events like these," Qarage added.

According to Addameer, a Palestinian rights group, there are currently over 7,000 Palestinian political prisoners, among them over 400 children, 60 women and 700 administrative detainees held for indefinite period of time without charge or trial.

"Israeli mass incarceration of Palestinians is an inextricable part of the ongoing violence of occupation," Addameer said in a public statement.

The group also called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to, "immediately open an investigation into the case of Palestinian prisoners and detainees." and to bring those who have "tortured, extrajudicially executed, forcibly transferred and arbitrarily detained Palestinians," to be held responsible for their crimes.

In Gaza City, members of various Palestinian political factions held a march from the Unknown Soldier's Square at the city center to the premise of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Officials from Palestinian factions delivered speeches during the march, expressing support for Palestinian prisoners held in Israel's prisons and calling for an end to the rift between Fatah and Hamas, while also slamming Fatah for doing an "inadequate job supporting the prisoners".

"The prisoners' case must be brought to the negotiating table," said Wasfi Qabha, Hamas leader and former minister of detainees. "The PA signed a peace agreement with Israel without securing any guarantees to release our prisoners."

Abu Ubaida, spokesperson for the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, said that al Qassam Brigades will stand firm on its promise to release prisoners, and that it has "enough tools to accomplish an honorable prisoner swap deal with Israel."

Earlier this month, Hamas denied negotiations were being made with Israel concerning the four Israelis held captive in the Gaza strip, adding that the exchange would not be made unless Israel “paid a price”, Ma'an News reported.

Prisoners' issues have been considered one of the most sensitive topics among Palestinians, and one that has been widely discussed and agreed upon by Palestinian political factions, despite the division between them.

In a press release on Sunday, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah also marked Palestinian Prisoner's Day, saying that "the Israeli occupation has transformed our homeland into a large prison."

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