Palestinian Prisoners Day: 4800 languishing in Israeli jails

Palestinian Prisoners Day: 4800 languishing in Israeli jails
Palestinians have marked Prisoners Day as Israel continues to hold 4800 prisoners in its jails
2 min read
17 April, 2023
Relatives of Palestinian prisoners have been protesting across the West Bank and Gaza [Getty images]

Palestinians across Gaza, the West Bank and around the world marked Palestinian prisoners day on Monday, as nearly 5,000 remain behind bars in Israeli jails. 

Rallies have taken place in cities across Palestine, calling for the release of elderly prisoners, women and children. Many prisoners have spent decades behind bars, enduring harsh conditions and abuse.

80-year old Khudra al-Burai, from the Jabalia refugee camp to the north of the Gaza strip, has been missing her son for 28 years since Nidal al-Burai was imprisoned in the Israeli system. 

"For 28 years, I’ve been waiting for my son to return and he’s still not here," she told Wafa news agency. 

Her rare visits to the prison had kept her going for decades but six months ago Israeli authorities stopped access. 

"And now, in the last six months, it’s forbidden - and we don’t know why," Khudra said. 

Over the past five decades, Israel "has detained over 800,000 Palestinians, including children and women," according to figures released by the Palestinian foreign ministry on Monday. 

"Currently, Israel illegally detains 4,800, including 29 females and 170 children," the ministry added.

The longest-seving Palestinian prisoner in the Israeli carceral system is Mohammad al-Tous - who has been held since 1985. 

One prisoner, Abdullah Barghouti, has been sentenced to 67 consecutive life sentences. 

"The Israeli judicial system is part of the colonial regime that legitimizes discrimination, torture and persecution of the Palestinian people," said the foreign ministry. 

Some relatives of Palestinian prisoners hope that Israel and Hamas may agree to a prisoner exchange, allowing them to see their loved ones again.

Four Israelis - including an army officer - are currently held by Hamas's military wing in Gaza. 

However, the prospect of a deal seems distant. More than once over the last nine years, Israel has refused Hamas offers for prisoner exchanges. 

"We miss him at iftar during Ramadan, and we miss him in all our events and holidays. I fear that I will die without being be able to hug him," said Najat Al-Agha, mother of Diaa al-Agha, Gaza’s longest-serving prisoner.