Background on the Palestinian Hunger Strike and NGO Claims
- Political campaigns and allegations regarding Israeli treatment of Palestinian prisoners – a group primarily comprised of murderers convicted of bombings of buses, malls, and cafes; and other atrocities – periodically use hunger strikes and other tactics to attract attention. In this context, the PLO instituted an annual “day of solidarity with prisoners” (April 17) to mark the first release of a Fatah terrorist in exchange for a kidnapped civilian. Featured prisoners include leaders of terrorist organizations such as Marwan Barghouti (Fatah), the PFLP, and Islamic Jihad.
- Although couched in terms of prisoners’ rights, family visits, and other social and legal issues, the campaigns are primarily political, both within Palestinian frameworks and internationally. Regarding the latter, the efforts are designed to promote sympathy for the Palestinian narrative and reinforce the demonization of Israel through false and disproportionate allegations.
- As in previous years, NGOs are playing a central role in assisting the campaign. Many of these NGOs receive foreign government funding, and support discriminatory BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns against Israel; some prominent NGOs also have alleged ties to terror groups. Their statements and supporting activities falsely accuse Israel of legal violations, and omit the context of violence and mass terror for which these prisoners are in prison. Many of these NGO claims are repeated without independent confirmation by the media.
- The lead NGO behind the prisoners’ campaign is Addameer, an affiliate of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror group. Addameer was established as a so-called “human rights organization” in order to sanitize the terrorism at the root of the Palestinian prisoner movement. Most media reports that rely on Addameer do not include this core dimension.
- The NGOs involved in this campaign obscure the heinous crimes of murder and other violence for which the prisoners have been convicted. This essential context explains why Israeli restrictions on personal items during family visits and on telephones in wards for security prisoners are necessary and legitimate. For this reason, there is no justification for referring to the “Palestinian prisoners’ demands” as “just, reasonable, and grounded in international law.”
The International Committee of the Red Cross reduced the number of monthly visits due to low interest, yet this is being blamed on Israel.
- One of the demands translates into allowing Palestinian prisoners to determine Israeli policy on movement from Hamas-controlled Gaza into Israel. Based on security concerns, Israel is permitted to prevent individuals from Gaza from entering Israel, including for the purpose of visiting terrorist-prisoners.
- Contrary to the NGO claims, the evidence clearly shows that medical care afforded prisoners and the use of solitary confinement adhere to international standards.
- “Media Misleading on Palestinian Prisoners”, The Star (South Africa) http://www.ornico.co.za/editorialstream/OwnMediaAttachments/2017_05_08_3370100.pdf
- Palestinian Prisoners Day: NGOs Promote Terrorist Propaganda, April 19, 2017