The UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk said he is appalled at the conditions that have led to more than 1500 prisoners taking part in a hunger strike.  Prison authorities have reportedly taken punitive measures against those on hunger strike, including denying them family and lawyer visits, confiscating their personal belongings and placing them in solitary confinement.   

“I am appalled by the continuing human rights violations in Israeli prisons and I urge the Government of Israel to respect its international human rights obligations towards all Palestinian prisoners.  Israel must treat those prisoners on hunger strike in accordance with international standards, including by allowing the detainees visits from their family members,”  Falk said in a statement.

Falk noted that since the 1967 war, an estimated 750,000 Palestinians including 23,000 women and 25,000 children have gone through detention in Israeli jails. This constitutes approximately 20 percent of the total Palestinian population in the occupied Palestinian territory or 40 percent of the total male Palestinian population in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Falk also made mention of the practice of administrative detention, whereby Israel can hold prisoners indefinitely without charge, so prisoner and lawyers have no idea of the charges against them.  Though it has at times been much higher, the number of prisoners on administrative detention today is 300.

“Israel’s wide use of administrative detention flies in the face of international fair trial standards,” Falk said. “Detainees must be able to effectively challenge administrative detention orders, including by ensuring that lawyers have full access to the evidence on which the order was issued,”  Falk said.

Two of the hunger strikers appealed to the Israeli courts to end their administrative detention.  Thaer Halahla and Bilal Diab, suspected by Israel of security offences, and two other men have passed the 60-day mark of the hunger strike. Ten stopped eating about 40 days ago while the others began the protest on April 17, Palestinian officials said.

Read BBC’s article   Read Reuters’ article on appeal to the Israeli courts