Last updated: 11 June, 2014

Palestinians seek action against Israel over detainees

A senior Palestinian official has called for international action against Israel over the detention without charge of more than 100 Palestinians who have been on a long-term hunger strike.

“I am writing on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organisation and president Mahmud Abbas to request your immediate intervention on behalf of the approximately 130 Palestinian detainees and prisoners currently on hunger strike in Israeli prisons,” senior PLO member Saeb Erakat said in a letter obtained by AFP Wednesday.

“We call on you to call on Israel to annul the policy of administrative detention and to condition deepening your bilateral ties with Israel pending Israel’s fulfilment of all its obligations”, he wrote in English.

Administrative detention is a procedure dating back to the pre-1948 British mandate under which military courts can hold suspects without charge for periods of up to six months, which can be renewed indefinitely.

The letter, issued on Tuesday, was sent to members of the European Union, and Brazil, South Africa and India.

It was also sent to states in the UN Security Council, excluding non-permanent member Australia, which recently said it would no longer refer to annexed east Jerusalem as “occupied,” infuriating the Palestinian leadership who wants it as capital of their future state.

The Israeli Prisons Service told AFP there were currently some 250 inmates refusing food, 90 of them for over six weeks of whom 75 had been hospitalised.

IPS spokeswoman Sivan Weizman said this was the longest-ever mass hunger strike of Palestinians held by Israel.

Some 5,000 Palestinians are being held in Israeli jails, with nearly 200 in administrative detention.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has urged Israel to either charge or release the striking prisoners without delay.