Israeli security forces use excessive force against solidarity protesters in Palestine
The human rights situation in Palestine is of grave concern, as Israeli security forces at times act with impunity against Palestinians, especially those being held in Israeli-run prisons, where the living conditions are deplorable and ill-treatment and torture are commonplace. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights has documented numerous cases of inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners.
Of the 6,500 Palestinians being held under Israeli jurisdiction, hundreds have been denied the right to a fair trial and thousands are considered political prisoners, including Palestinian political party members, independent journalists and activists. The prisoners have used hunger strikes to protest the poor conditions and unfair treatment. Local civic groups have put pressure on the Israeli authorities to improve prison conditions and respect prisoners' rights.
The Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) - a CIVICUS Monitor partner - issued a strong statement calling for the immediate implementation of a United Nations resolution to secure Palestinian self-determination and independence. ANND also called upon the international community to advocate for improved conditions for detained Palestinians, declaring:
"[P]ressure and follow up on the Palestinian prisoners' cause and to stop Israeli violations are much needed. Solidarity should be firm. In reality we all remain accountable with regard to the rights of Palestinians, particularly taking into consideration the Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals".
In April and May 2017, local civil society's advocacy efforts and a hunger-strike by Palestinian political prisoners led to one improvement for prisoners in regards to visiting rights. After a 40-day standoff, Israeli authorities finally agreed to allow at least two family visits each month.
The CIVICUS Monitor spoke to the Palestinian NGOs Network (PNGO) - a local organisation supporting the prisoners' strike and monitoring and reporting on prison conditions. A recording of the interview can be heard below.
As Palestinians' rights are not fully respected and protected, citizen-led mobilisations and actions have sought to draw attention to the restrictions on civil and political freedoms they face living in Israeli-occupied Palestine. In particular, the hunger strike by over 1,500 Palestinian prisoners this year prompted widespread protests in support of the prisoners.
As recorded by PNGO, Israeli security forces used excessive and potentially lethal force on solidarity protesters, including tear gas and rubber bullets. There were also reports of Israeli security using live ammunition to quell demonstrations, seriously injuring a number of civilians.
The international community has shown support to the prisoners and protesters by organising a number of solidarity protests throughout the United States and Europe. The mission of the European Union in Jerusalem and Ramallah also called upon Israeli authorities to comply with international humanitarian law and human rights obligations towards all prisoners.