As recently decided by the WFTU Presidential Council, in January 2021 the International WFTU Campaign for the release of Palestinian prisoners, especially children, from Israeli prisons, begins.
According to estimations of Palestinians, there are 4.400 Palestinians detained in Israeli jails, including 39 women and 155 children, and about 350 are being held under Israeli administrative detention policy, which allows Palestinians to be detained without charge or trial.
The prisoners are being held in solitary confinement without humanitarian conditions, while Israel has passed a law imposing stricter conditions.
No measures were taken during the pandemic to protect prisoners in Israeli jails. For example, a total of 137 prisoners were infected by COVID-19 at Gilboa Prison in northern Israel.
The reasons why the Palestinians are being arrested are because they oppose the Israeli occupation of their territories and the criminal policy of Israel, which daily subjects them to difficulties, dangers and restrictions.
As for the minor prisoners, since 2000, an estimated 12.000 Palestinian children have been arrested by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank and held in Israeli military prisons, many of them as young as 12 years old. In some cases, even children aged 6 and 7 have been imprisoned by the army. Israel brings before the military courts 500-700 Palestinian children each year, while on average, 200-300 children are held in Israeli prisons per month.
Children are violently arrested, abused, interrogated for weeks, intimidated, locked up in solitary confinement, asked to sign documents in Hebrew that they do not understand, not allowed to see their parents, who sometimes lose their traces as they carry them from prison to prison.
The arrested children are also being interrogated, detained and tried by Israeli soldiers and military personnel. This violates international law, which stipulates that military courts may be used to prosecute civilians only temporarily. Despite signing both the 4th Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilians in time of war and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which provides for specific protection measures for children in detention, Israel is the only country to put on trial children in military courts without proper guarantees. The children, even when released, have problems with their physical and mental health due to their imprisonment and detention conditions in Israeli prisons.
The international, class-oriented trade union movement, along with its struggle for the recognition of the independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, must intensify its struggle against this criminal behavior by demanding the release of all Palestinian prisoners, especially children.
The WFTU calls upon all its trade union members and friends in every corner of the globe to express their solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners and to join their voices and forces by actively participating in the WFTU campaign by:
– Organizing protests promoting the materials and demands of the WFTU campaign
– Carrying out online information and solidarity events
– Supporting WFTU resolutions to the United Nations and other international organizations on the protection of the rights of Palestinian children
– Presenting memorandums to the embassies of Israel in your countries
– Informing the workers and the trade unions in your area
In these difficult and special conditions in which the working class and the people find themselves in the new year, we call upon you to continue our struggles with persistence and internationalism, to defend the interests of the workers of all countries, against every injustice and criminal action against workers and their families.
No one alone in the struggles!
Freedom for Palestinian prisoners and child prisoners!