UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk spoke Wednesday in support of the 1,550
Palestinian prisoners who have been on a hunger strike since April 17.
a statement he issued to the media from Geneva, he said he was appalled by human
rights violations against Palestinians in Israeli prisons.
Falk, who is
tasked with investigating the situation of human rights under Israeli military
rule in the West Bank, said the hunger strike was an act of collective
nonviolent resistance against Israeli “occupation.” The prisoners, he said, were
also protesting unjust arrest procedures, arbitrary detention and bad prison
“I urge the government of Israel to respect its international
human rights obligations towards all Palestinian prisoners,” Falk
Since the Six Day War in 1967, 750,000 Palestinians, or 20 percent
of West Bank Palestinians and 40% of male Palestinians in that area, have spent
time in jail, he said.
Although the 1,550 hunger-strikers are not
administrative detainees, Falk also slammed Israel for holding Palestinians
without leveling charges against them.
“Israel’s wide use of
administrative detention flies in the face of international fair trial
standards,” he said. “Detainees must be able to effectively challenge
administrative detention orders, including by ensuring that lawyers have full
access to the evidence on which the order was issued.”
He said that
Israel has some 300 Palestinians in administrative detention.
administrative detainees are also on a hunger strike. According to Physicians
for Human Rights in Israel, two of them are entering their 65th
Palestinian activists have rallied around the cause of the hunger
strikers, holding protests Tuesday and Wednesday in Betunia, on the outskirts of
Ramallah, not far from Ofer Prison.
They plan to hold protests every day.
There is a demonstration planned for noon on Thursday. Friday’s weekly
demonstrations will be dedicated to the prisoners’ cause.
Wednesday’s rallies both took a violent turn.
According to the IDF, the
protesters, some of the masked, threw stones, Molotov cocktails and burnings
tires at soldiers and border police. A number of security personnel were lightly
Abir Kopty of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee said
the IDF shot tear gas and rubber bullets at the demonstrators, wounding some 20
people, of whom five were sent to the hospital.
A video the committee
released from Tuesday’s demonstration showed a woman climbing onto the roof of a
white IDF vehicle, designed to spray “skunk water” on protesters.
wore jeans. A scarf covered her hair. She stood for a moment waving a
Palestinian flag as demonstrators on the ground applauded.
When she came
down border police chased her, to arrest her. Other activists crowded around
her, in a huddle. A stun grenade forced the group of four or five activists to
Border police tried to pull them off her. At one point an
officer can be seen pulling a demonstrator by his white T-shirt and using his
boot to try to push him off the female activist.
The Border Police also
used pepper spray directly on the demonstrators’ faces.
Medics could then
be seen treating them. The female activist was taken to the hospital for
treatment and was not arrested, Kopty said.