Generations of Imprisonment – No Justice in Sight

Alternative Jewish Voices joins our fellow Jewish activists to protest the incarceration of Palestinians in Israel’s military jails.

In September 2021 the world’s attention focused briefly on six Palestinian prisoners who escaped from the Gilboa Prison in northern Israel.  The spotlight revealed deep and ongoing human rights violations against Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

As Jews from around the world, we in the International Jewish Collective for Justice in Palestine (IJCJP) are dismayed and acutely sensitive to the age-old command not to stand idly by.

The statistics are grim. 4,650 Palestinian prisoners are now incarcerated, including 200 children and 40 women. Some 520 people are held in administrative detention, which provides that a prisoner can be held for months without charge or trial, which can then be renewed—over and over again ad infinitum. One Palestinian  former aid worker from Gaza has been held more than five years, appearing in Israeli courts 166 times without evidence that any crime has been committed. (1) One of the Gilboa escapees, Monadel Yacoub Nafe’at, had been in administrative detention since 2019.

In addition, Human Rights Watch reports that “Israeli authorities try Palestinians charged with crimes in military courts, where they face a conviction rate of nearly 100 percent.” (2) Israel is the only country on earth to routinely prosecute children in its military courts.

For decades, prisoners have charged officials with torture, beatings and other forms of maltreatment, all of which are prohibited by international law. Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners have engaged regularly in hunger strikes to protest their conditions.

This revolving door of imprisonment touches every Palestinian family, and amounts to the collective punishment of a people.

If we do nothing, how will we reply when a generation of Palestinians asks, “Why have all of my male cousins been incarcerated? Why have all my uncles been incarcerated?” (3)

Let us take seriously another age-old precept: Justice, justice, thou shall pursue. Let us therefore act in each of our communities to draw attention to these injustices where we can, whether in individual or communal settings.

(1)   Numbers provided by Al Jazeera, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/9/13/infographic-how-many-palestinians-are-imprisoned-by-israel-interactive, relying on figures from Addameer, the prisoner’s rights group, adameer.org).

(2) https://www.hrw.org/report/2021/04/27/threshold-crossed/israeli-authorities-and-crimes-apartheid-and-persecution#_ftn248

(3) From Aotearoa to Palestine: Discussing Foreign Policy for Solidarity, a Te Kuaka podcast by NZ Alternative. For notes and further information, https://anchor.fm/te-kuaka/episodes/From-Aotearoa-to-Palestine-Discussing-Foreign-Policy-for-Solidarity-e17s8c8

Signatories

Jewish Voice for Peace (USA)

Jews Say No! (USA)

Independent Jewish Voices Canada

Boycott From Within (Israeli Citizens for BDS)

South African Jews for a Free Palestine

Jewish Voice for Labour (UK)

Jewish Network for Palestine (UK)

Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East (Germany)

Alternative Jewish Voices (New Zealand)

Jewish Call for Peace (Luxembourg)

Jews Against the Occupation (Australia)

French Jewish Peace Union

Another Jewish Voice (Belgium)

All groups listed are members of the International Jewish Collective for Justice in Palestine (IJCJP)

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