Almost 300,000 Palestinian men, women and children have been detained in Israeli prisons since the start of the first Intifada on 8 December 1987. The figures have been revealed in a report issued by a Palestinian human rights research centre on the Intifada’s 25th anniversary. Some of the detainees have been held for years; some have been behind bars for months; some for days and some for hours.
The Centre for Palestinian Prisoners Studies’ report noted that 210,000 people were detained during the first Intifada between 1987 and 1994, when the Palestinian Authority was established. About 10,000 Palestinians were detained between 1994 and September 2000, when the second, Al-Aqsa Intifada was triggered by the visit of the former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon to Al-Aqsa Mosque. Since late 2000, around 79,000 Palestinians have been detained by Israel.
“Hence, the total number of Palestinians who have experienced detention by the Israelis is 299,000, including the elderly and minors from both genders,” said the report. “The detainees included elected Palestinian Legislative Council members, university students, academics and physicians.”
Even though the Israelis have used detention to try to sow despair in the hearts of the Palestinians, the report’s authors pointed out that they have not achieved their goal.
Since Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip started in 1967, around 20 per cent of the whole Palestinian population has been detained at one time or another, a total of 750,000 people.