From in front of the house of one of the longest serving prison veterans from the Gaza Strip; 57 year old Salim Ali al-Kayal who is serving a life term in the Nafha Desert Prison and has been incarcerated for the last 28 years, Gaza's Ministry of Prisons announced the start of activities associated with Palestinian Prisoners Day commemorated on the 17th of April each year. Currently there is an estimated 7,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons.
The Minister for Prisons, Ataullah Abu al-Sabeh, said that Palestinian Prisoners Day was a priority for his ministry to emphasise the right of prisoners to be released from the prisons of the occupation and to be able to live with their families and amongst their people. He highlighted that dozens of prisoners spent years in prison without trial, charge or being given a specific release date. Others await deportation, dozens of whom die slowly in solitary confinement cells. Arbitrary Israeli procedures prohibit many relatives from visiting their loved ones under the flimsy pretext of security considerations.
He stated that the ministry also valued the families of the detainees who gather weekly at the headquarters of the Red Cross to appeal for intervention and the protection of their detained children from the atrocities of the occupation.
Palestinian Resistance factions who have held Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in the Gaza Strip for more than five years now demand the release of 1,4000 Palestinian prisoners; they insist on the release of the aged, women, children and those with particularly harsh sentences. In addition they demand that the living conditions of all Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli jails be improved.
MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad