Falk slams treatment of Palestinian prisoners

UN’s special rapporteur says Israel’s use of administrative detention "flies in the face of int'l fair trial standards.”

Arabs riot near Ofer Prison 370 (photo credit: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters)
Arabs riot near Ofer Prison 370
(photo credit: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters)
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.
In 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 condition.
“I urge the government of Israel to respect its international human rights obligations towards all Palestinian prisoners,” Falk said.
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.
Four administrative detainees are also on a hunger strike. According to Physicians for Human Rights in Israel, two of them are entering their 65th day.
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.
Tuesday and 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 wounded.
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.
She 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 the ground.
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.