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Qaraqe testifies before UN commission on Palestinian prisoners' living conditions

July 13, 2017 10:58 A.M. (Updated: July 13, 2017 5:47 P.M.)
(File)
AMMAN (Ma'an) -- Palestinian Committee of Prisoners' Affairs head Issa Qaraqe testified in front of a United Nations independent commission of inquiry on Wednesday over violations of international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territory.

The testimony took place in the Jordanian capital, Amman, after Israel denied the commission investigators entry to the occupied Palestinian territory.

In a statement released after the meeting, Qaraqe said that he focused his testimony on what he called "unprecedented, oppressive, and brutal" Israeli violations Israel against Palestinian prisoners during a mass hunger strike between April and May.

The hunger strike called for an end to the denial of family visits, the right to pursue higher education, appropriate medical care and treatment, and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention -- imprisonment without charge or trial -- among other demands for basic rights.

While the Committee of Prisoners' Affairs stated at the end of the hunger strike that Israeli authorities had acceded to the prisoners' demands, the Israel Prison Service (IPS) has maintained that it did not negotiate with the hunger strike leaders, nor accede to any of their requests.

Qaraqe told the commission that prisoners were assaulted following official orders from the Israeli government as the prisoners were “peacefully protesting” to improve their living conditions in Israeli custody.

Qaraqe called on the commission of inquiry to investigate the living conditions of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel in person, and for the UN to take “immediate steps” to hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law.

He also urged the UN General Assembly to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the dangerous situation of Palestinian prisoners.

Israeli authorities currently hold 6,200 Palestinians in Israeli prisons, according to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, including 490 without charge or trial. The group has reported that 40 percent of the Palestinian male population has at some point been detained by Israeli forces.
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