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Human rights groups appeal for protection of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A file photo shows Palestinian prisoners at Israeli jails.

A number of human rights groups have called on the UN and humanitarian organizations to prevent Israel from violating the very basic rights of Palestinians being kept behind bars in Israeli detention centers.

Addameer Prisoner Support, Human Rights Association, the Palestinian Prisoner Society, and the Prisoners’ Affairs Commission in a joint statement on Thursday appealed to UN agencies and diplomatic missions to hold Israeli authorities fully responsible for the safety and protection of Palestinian detainees.

The Israel Prison Service (IPS) is disregarding the right to life by keeping Palestinian prisoners under deplorable conditions lacking proper hygienic standards, the statement added.

Since a prison break by six inmates Monday, the IPS has banned Palestinian families from visiting their loved ones in jails and Israeli special military units have taken punitive measures and launched a brutal crackdown on prisoners, it noted.

The statement comes amid simmering tensions in prisons in the wake of the breakout which has been described by the Israeli regime's extremist prime minister Naftali Bennett as a "grave incident".

In the incident, a former commander of the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade in Jenin, and five members of the Islamic Jihad group tunneled their way out through their cell’s drainage system to escape from the maximum-security Gilboa prison in the predawn hours of Monday.

The rights groups urged the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to undertake serious efforts to shield the Palestinian prisoners from collective punishment and punitive measures taken by the occupying regime.

In recent days, the measures against thousands of Palestinian prisoners have included attempts to disperse around 400 prisoners affiliated with the Islamic Jihad and relocate them to other prisons.

The brutal crackdown has prompted Palestinian inmates, especially in the prisons of Negev and Ramon, to set fire to several cells.

In a separate statement, Addameer expressed "grave concern over a series of collective, punitive, retaliatory, and arbitrary measures by Israeli occupying authorities against Palestinian political prisoners."

"They stand in stark contrast to Israel’s responsibility as an occupying power under the Fourth Geneva Convention, serving as collective punishment against all Palestinian prisoners," it said.

It emphasized that "without third-party supervision of IPS policies, the rights of Palestinian prisoners will continue to be violated with impunity, and the gravity of the situation will only increase."

Palestinian prisoners have been subjected to systematic torture, harassment, and repression all through the years of Israel’s occupation of their territories.

The IPS keeps Palestinian prisoners in deplorable conditions. More than 7,000 Palestinian prisoners are currently held in some 17 Israeli jails, with dozens of them serving multiple life sentences.

Israeli forces have arrested more than 17,000 minors since 2000. Following the recent jailbreak, hailed by Palestinians as a "heroic' act, the regime has launched a massive manhunt to locate the escapees.

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