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‘Palestinian prisoners without clothes, heating appliances 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)
This photo shows Palestinian prisoners at an Israeli jail.

A Palestinian commission for prisoners says Palestinians languishing in Israeli jails are suffering from the cold due to an acute shortage of clothing and blankets during the severe winter weather. 

In a statement realized on Thursday, the Palestinian Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs said Israeli authorities are also blocking donations of winter clothes and blankets and hindering the entry of cold-weather clothing and heating appliances to the inmates.

"All detainees suffer from shortages of clothes and blankets and the lack of heating means that could protect them from the cold weather," the statement read.

It added that Israel's inhumane policy is part of a systematic effort to erode Palestinian detainees' determination, resilience, will and steadfastness.

The statement demanded that international human rights groups intervene to help the Palestinian male and female prisoners. The commission also appealed to the UN and other international organizations to assume their responsibilities towards thousands of Palestinians in Israeli jails.

The Israeli Prison Service (IPS) keeps Palestinian prisoners under deplorable conditions lacking proper hygienic standards in Israeli jails.

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

According to the Palestine Detainees Studies Center, around 60% of the Palestinian prisoners detained in Israeli jails suffer from chronic diseases, a number of whom died in detention or after being released due to the severity of their cases.

There are reportedly more than 7,000 Palestinians held at Israeli jails. Hundreds of the inmates have been apparently incarcerated under the practice of administrative detention.

Critics say Israel uses the policy of administrative detention to silence the voices of Palestinians but lacks any concrete evidence that could be presented in an open, military court. Palestinians say administrative detention is a whole other level of injustice.

Rights groups describe Israel’s use of administrative detention as a “bankrupt tactic” and have long called on the regime to bring its use to an end.

Palestinian inmates regularly stage hunger strikes in protest at both the administrative detention policy and harsh prison conditions.

Administrative inmates in Israeli jails say going on hunger strike is one of their few options to make their voice heard and force Tel Aviv to end this illegal policy.

In 2015, Israel approved a law that authorizes force-feeding the Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, a practice rejected by the UN as a violation of human rights.

According to figures by the Defense for Children International, between 500 and 700 Palestinian children at the age of 12-17 are also arrested and tried in Israeli military courts every year.

Israeli forces have arrested more than 17,000 minors since 2000. Human rights organizations say Israel continues to violate all rights and freedoms granted to prisoners by the fourth Geneva Convention and international laws.

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