According to their lawyer, judges on Monday, May 7, ruled that their hunger strike was not a reason to release them from administrative detention despite their being in life-threatening condition.
Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahla began refusing food on February 29 in protest to their administrative detention, a controversial practice used by Tel Aviv, which allows Israeli authorities to hold people, mostly Palestinians, without charge or trial indefinitely.
An estimated 1,600 to 2,000 Palestinian prisoners have begun an open-ended hunger strike on April 17 to protest against Israel’s administrative detention rules, the use of solitary confinement, maltreatment of sick detainees, and difficulty in securing family visits and strip searches that are imposed on visitors.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Professor Mohsen Saleh, from the Zaytuna Center for Studies, to further discuss the issue.
The video also offers the opinions of two additional guests: Essam Younes, director of al-Mizan Center for Human Rights and journalist, Carel Gould.
The following is a rough transcription of the interview.
Press TV: Mr. Mohsen Saleh, do you think that this is related to specifically the time of Benjamin Netanyahu that there can be no reform if we may say on this specific issue?
Saleh: Well, generally speaking this is consistent in the Israeli policy since the occupation of Palestine in dealing with the Palestinian prisoners especially with this case of administrative detention. It is chronic in their policies since their occupation.
Let me say also one word, yes, this policy was used by the British but it was mostly used against the Palestinian nationalists who were calling for their freedom and establishing a Palestinian state not only for some few Jews which we have some few cases at that time.
Also for the second case here, this policy was used by the Likud Party, by the Labor party, by the coalition; so it is a general consistent Israeli policy which was used by all.
We have all over the time, hundreds of Palestinian prisoners under such rule – this administrative detention. Nowadays we have almost 300, but maybe at the times of the Labor or the Likud [Party] we have a few hundred every time for the last 20 or 25 years; so it is a general consistent policy of the Israelis.
Press TV: Don’t you think it might somehow backfire and blow up in Israel’s face as long as its getting bigger, it’s getting more intense, although we still don’t have a lot of words from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and so on and their stances are not that harsh but people are getting angrier inside Palestine?
Saleh: Well just for information, for this policy, maybe the world will not hear about the Palestinian sufferance inside Israeli jails unless the Palestinians go for such hunger strikes or these things.
This very policy is being used since the occupation, since 1967. All the suffering is there, not only this kind of administrative detention but even with torture. 90 percent of Palestinians are being tortured in the Israel jails under all sorts of Israeli governments. We have many evidences about that — we have hundreds of women and children and all that.
We have all the cases of the kinds of torture which goes against the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Third Geneva Convention and all the international standards of human rights when dealing with prisoners.
In fact, we have Palestinians under occupation. This occupation is cruel. It’s not dealing with people based on human rights. In such a case, we have very big sufferance.
Unfortunately, we [don’t] have the support of the USA and some Western countries to such Israeli policies which we cannot hear in the right way about the real sufferance of the Palestinians in the jails. Nowadays, we have more than 4,300 Palestinians who are still in the Israeli jails.
Press TV: The rift among the Palestinians, do we need to have unity among them first before we can call on the Arab League to take its responsibility, if we may say, or the United Nations Security Council or any international committee, in that case?
Saleh: Unity is so important for Palestinians to address their issue but this is not the case. The Palestinians are suffering from the Israeli occupation, their women, their children, their prisoners in jails, their houses being demolished not because whether they have unity or not.
The Israelis are an occupying force which is dealing in a very cruel manner with the Palestinians; and when the Palestinians were united, also for a long time, the Israelis continued the very same policies against the Palestinians, killing, torturing, injuring, detaining, arresting and also seizing their land.
It is a policy of the Israelis, in a very systematic way, in the process of Judaizing the areas of Jerusalem and all the areas of the West bank, and so on. It is a consistent policy. In this case, we should blame those who are doing such policies, the occupiers not the victims.
Press TV: Yes, support them. Doesn’t the Arab League and the Palestinian leadership on both sides, don’t they also have a responsibility in this respect?
Saleh: Yes, they are united in the case of the Palestinian prisoners. They are in one way and united in addressing the issue of prisoners. They are not divided in such a case. They are cooperating in promoting such an issue.
I think it is their responsibility, the responsibility also of the Arab League and also of the Organization of the Islamic Council, cooperation or Islamic League.
Also, it is the responsibility of the international community because the occupation goes against international law, against human being rights and also against the laws of the United Nations and so on – all the international laws. I think it is also an international responsibility.
We should not go to the Palestinians to blame them for such policies, here and there.
It is the responsibility of the international community to force or to push the Israelis to withdraw from the Palestinian lands. This is the number one responsibility of the big powers who are supporting Israel and gave them such a cover of their cruel policies in the West Bank, Jerusalem.
Press TV: Do you think that we’ll see a third intifada as a result of this mass hunger strike and mass protest?
Saleh: Well, everything is expected nowadays in Palestine because Palestinians are united in such policies against the Israeli policies against the prisoners. I think it is a very clear case against the Palestinian prisoners and all the Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims and international community who are with justice and freedom, supporting such a case with the Palestinians.