Sat Apr 15, 2017 4:17PM
In this file photo, Palestinian prisoners walk at the yard of the Israeli prison of Megiddo. (Photo by AFP)
In this file photo, Palestinian prisoners walk at the yard of the Israeli prison of Megiddo. (Photo by AFP)

Israel is holding a total of 6,500 Palestinians, including women, children and lawmakers, in prisons and detention facilities across the occupied territories, three Palestinian non-governmental organizations say.

In a joint press released on Saturday, the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs (CDA), the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society and the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) said 57 women and 300 children were among the detainees.

The statement noted that 500 inmates were being incarcerated under the practice of administrative detention, which is a policy under which Palestinian inmates are kept in Israeli detention facilities without trial or charge.

Some Palestinian prisoners have been held in administrative detention for up to 11 years.

The report comes as some 1,500 prisoners from all Palestinian political factions are planning to start an open-ended hunger strike on Monday, which marks Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, in protest at harsh prison conditions and restrictions on family visits.

The inmates seek better access to medical care, increased visit duration from 45 to 90 minutes, removal of glass barriers to allow mothers to hold their children, free entry of books, clothing, food and other gifts from family members into prisons and installation of phones to enable prisoners to stay in touch with their families.

They also want to be moved to prisons in the occupied West Bank as per the Fourth Geneva Convention, which would make it easier for their families to visit them. 

On Thursday, the London-based prominent rights group Amnesty International called on the Tel Aviv regime to end “unlawful and cruel” policies towards Palestinian prisoners.

“Israel's ruthless policy of holding Palestinian prisoners arrested in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in prisons … is a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.  

“It is unlawful and cruel and the consequences for the imprisoned person and their loved ones, who are often deprived from seeing them for months, and at times for years on end, can be devastating,” Mughrabi added.