Palestinian prisoners organisations condemn ICRC's 'inaction' on abuses in Israel's prisons

Palestinian prisoners organisations condemn ICRC's 'inaction' on abuses in Israel's prisons
Palestinian prisoners' rights groups said they have suspended collaboration with the ICRC over its lack of action over Israel's abuse of Palestinian prisoners.
4 min read
West Bank
13 February, 2024
Since 7 October, Israel has arrested over 7,000 Palestinians. [Qassam Muaddi/TNA]

Palestinian organisations supporting prisoners and detainees held in Israeli jails have "suspended collaboration" with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in protest of what they consider ICRC's "inaction" regarding Palestinian prisoners since 7 October, the Palestinian Prisoners Club announced on Monday.

Since 7 October, Israel has arrested more than 7,000 Palestinians, many of whom have been released and given testimonies of unprecedented ill-treatment, abuse and torture within Israel's prisons.

Meanwhile, the number of Palestinians detained indefinitely without charges by Israeli forces has seen a dramatic rise, reaching 3,484. 

On Monday, the Prisoners Club announced the death of 16-year-old Mohammad Abu Sneineh, from Jerusalem, in Israeli detention. Abu Sneineh succumbed to wounds caused to him by Israeli forces at his arrest, becoming the 9th identified Palestinian to die in Israeli custody since 7 October.

"We know the names of nine Palestinians who died in the occupation jails, but there are at least four more that the occupation authorities admitted but not identified", Amani Sarahneh, spokesperson for the Palestinian Prisoners' Club, told The New Arab.

"Eight of them, as far as we know, died under mistreatment and beating since detention conditions in occupation jails have gone back to what they were in the early days of the occupation, with systematic abuse, humiliation and starvation", noted Sarahneh.

"Yet, the Red Cross has not played its role in protecting Palestinian prisoners; on the contrary, it has stopped doing the basic part of its role that it used to do before 7 October", she said. "The Red Cross used to update us on the names of detainees and their detention conditions after visiting them, which it stopped doing". 

"We, in the prisoners' support organisations, understand that the Israeli occupation authorities have been obstructing the access of humanitarian organisations to Palestinian prisoners, but these organisations need to speak up on it", she added.

Palestinian prisoners' support organisations and prisoners' families have moved their weekly sit-ins, which occur on Tuesday, from in front of the ICRC's offices in Al-Bireh, the conglomerate twin-city of Ramallah, to the city centre.

"My brother, Ali Alian, has been in occupation jails for twenty years, and since 7 October, we haven't been able to visit him or receive any news from him", Iman Alian, a protester at the sit-in, told TNA.

"We had a visit scheduled for October, but the occupation revoked it after the events on the 7, and since then, the only thing we know about him is that he has been transferred to the Nafha prison in the Negev desert and that he has lost 15 kilograms of his weight", Alian said.

"I'm very afraid for him because several prisoners have already died in prison", she added. "I don't understand how the entire world is concerned about Israeli hostages while, at the same time, nobody even talks about our prisoners and detainees, who are being held in inhumane conditions, as if they had no families, as if they weren't human". 

In December, the Prisoners' Club demanded that ICRC issue a statement clarifying that Israeli authorities were banning visits to Palestinian prisoners. Israel had categorically banned all visits to Palestinian prisoners during the first weeks following 7 October.

The ICRC  has not provided any comment on TNA's request to respond.

In late October, the ICRC issued one statement expressing its concern about the inability to visit Palestinian prisoners and learning about their detention conditions. The same statement also said that the ICRC "reminds [Israeli] authorities of their obligations in private meetings".

Currently, more than 9,000 Palestinians are held in Israeli jails, including 200 children, 70 women and 3,484 detainees without charges.