HRC responded to a letter recently published in Surrey Now which makes fundamental errors about the nature of the Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. Find our response that was published in the May 17 edition of Surrey Now, below:
Terry Lawrence was fundamentally incorrect in describing the 4,500 (not 6,000 as he claimed) Palestinians in Israeli jails as "political prisoners." In reality, from an Israeli security and legal perspective, there’s no such thing as a "political prisoner."
While some individuals have been jailed for being members of Hamas, these individuals are incarcerated as a result of their association with this and other terrorist organizations and not because of their political views. Others were jailed after being convicted for their involvement in planning, supporting, financing or committing terror attacks against Israelis.
Additionally, this letter writer’s claim that these prisoners face frequent torture is egregious. Israel adheres to the Geneva Convention’s standards for the treatment of prisoners of war. Indeed, Palestinian prisoners are treated humanely, receive ample access to medical treatment, psychiatry, nutritious food, legal counsel, visits and communication with family, and entertainment via the form of televisions, some of which are in the private cells of these prisoners. In short, these prisoners are already given the "basic human rights, dignity and due process" that Mr. Lawrence advocates for.
Even arch-terrorist Marwan Barghouti got his PhD in political science at an Israeli jail – talk about "torture!" In sharp contrast, Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was held in solitary confinement, with no medical access, visits or communication with his family, IDF officials or the International Red Cross. He didn’t even see the light of day for five years. Shalit came out emaciated, and clearly the victim of torture, psychological and perhaps physical by his Hamas captors.
Where is Mr. Lawrence’s condemnation of Hamas’ clear violations of the rules of war?
As to the law of administrative detention, it is used in security-related cases, requiring a detainee to be brought before a judge within a short period of time where it’s ascertained if there’s any credible evidence to detain the individual. When one is detained, it’s deemed that there was credible evidence to jail that person. Israeli Defence officials argue that administrative detention, which has a six-month cap, is a life-saving tool which the civil criminal justice system cannot provide to defend civilians from terrorist organizations.