On the 17th of April, popular and official activities were held across the occupied Palestinian territories to mark Palestinian Prisoners Day which is commemorated annually after it was adopted by the Palestinian National Council in 1974. It aims to show solidarity and support for the thousands of Palestinians, including women, children, the elderly and the disabled, being held in Israeli prisons, as well as to highlight the daily suffering they endure as a consequence of the repressive measured used in Israeli prisons.
Today, between 6,500 and 7,000 Palestinians are being held across 17 Israeli prisons. This includes 37 female prisoners, 245 children, 180 administrative detainees, 12 elected representatives and numerous other leaders. Prisoners are exposed to horrendous conditions and treatment including torture, solitary confinement, medical negligence, no family visits and various forms of psychological pressure.
One of the most prominent activities was held in the West Bank city of Ramallah where the Palestinian Legislative Council [PLC] organised a solidarity sit-in at the headquarters of the International Red Cross in the city. The event was attended by a number of deputies as well as the families of prisoners. During the event, Dr Aziz Dweik, the head of the PLC, delivered an address in which he expressed the need for a concerted effort to support prisoners and their families. The exiled Jerusalem deputy, Muhammad Abu Tir, also gave an address.
This was followed by a protest in front of the Ofer military prison to the west of the city which among other things, called for international intervention in the issue and for the occupation to be put on trial for its crimes.
Forces of the Israeli occupation attempted to disperse the crowds through threats over a loud speaker but they carried on regardless. Palestinians and certain international organisations highlighted the deplorable way much of the world has focussed on the plight of the single captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, while paying no attention to more than 7,000 Palestinian prisoners living under terrible conditions.
In the Gaza Strip, similar events were held in front of the offices of the International Red Cross.
MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad
MEMO Photographer: Ibtehal Mansour