Workers Party of Ireland Statement on Palestinian Prisoners

The Workers Party of Ireland restates its solidarity with the Palestinian people and with Palestinian Prisoners in Israeli Jails. Since the beginning of the occupation, about 950,000 Palestinian political prisoners have passed through Israeli prisons. Because the Palestinian prisoners are held in facilities in Israel, in contravention of international law, Israel imposes severe restrictions on family visits, and many relatives are not permitted to visit at all. The Israel Prison Service (IPS) also enforces a complete ban on telephone communications for prisoners held on so-called “security grounds.”

Israeli prisons currently hold around 7,000 Palestinian political prisoners, including some 300 children. More than 500 are imprisoned without charge or trial under Israel’s notorious “administrative detention”. These political prisoners include political leaders, deputies in the Palestinian Legislative Council, workers, writers, researchers, journalists, political activists, human rights defenders, students and artists. Palestinian prisoners have long been subjected to torture, inhumane and degrading treatment. Many have been killed while in detention.

Israel, as part of its attempts to undermine the Palestinian struggle for freedom, has implemented campaigns of mass arbitrary arrests, torture and other punitive and restrictive measures. Marwan Barghouti, the Palestinian parliamentarian and member of the Fatah Central Committee, who was sentenced to five life sentences and 40 years in prison in a political show trial that was denounced by international observers and Ahmed Saadat, the leader of the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), were among a number of high-profile leaders of the prisoners’ movement who spear-headed the recent prison strike.

For decades Israel’s brutal colonial and military occupation in violation of international law has sought to break the spirit of prisoners and the Palestinian people. Israel has built nearly all of its prisons inside Israel rather than in the occupied territories and has unlawfully and forcibly transferred Palestinian civilians into captivity, and has used this device to restrict family visits and to inflict suffering on prisoners.

Five hundred detainees are serving life imprisonment. Six hundred detainees were arrested under the so-called renewable administrative detentions, without charge or trial, as a result of political opinions and political-related issues. There are 700 detainees suffering from chronic diseases. Eighty-five of them have serious health conditions. They are deprived of appropriate medical care. Thirty detainees were detained prior to the Oslo Accords and have served more than 25 years. Nael Barghouthi, the longest held Palestinian prisoner, has served thirty-seven years in detention.

The recent hunger strike launched by more than a thousand Palestinian prisoners and detainees in April 2017 under the slogan “Freedom and Dignity” was a non-violent protest focusing on several valid, legitimate, basic demands for improved prison conditions. The hunger strikers were demanding the right to family visits and access to telephone communication with their relatives. They were also demanding an appropriate level of educational provision and medical care including, regular medical check-ups and specialist treatment, an end to abusive and oppressive conditions of detention, improved conditions including access to books, newspapers, clothes and food and the cessation of “administrative detention”, imprisonment without charge or trial and solitary confinement.

The Workers Party of Ireland stands firmly with the Palestinian Detainees in their continuing struggle for freedom and dignity and demands the immediate and unconditional release of all Palestinian political prisoners; the immediate and unequivocal end of the Israeli occupation of all Palestinian and Arab lands; the recognition of the right of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to return and the legitimate and inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination, national independence and sovereignty in a free and independent State of Palestine.

Central Executive Committee

Workers Party of Ireland