Palestinian Political Prisoners

A political prisoner is someone who is arrested and detained because of their identity, beliefs or political activities. In the Palestinian context, political prisoners refer to people detained in relation to the Israeli occupation, as opposed to detainees suspected or convicted of crimes/offences of criminal activity unrelated to the occupation.

Israel holds thousands of Palestinians as political prisoners.

Israel’s system of arrest and detention is an integral part of Israel’s Apartheid system, under which Palestinians are governed under a separate set of laws than Israelis. It combines human rights abuses against individuals with a system of discrimination specifically designed to restrict and repress the Palestinian people and their struggle for freedom.

Background

Palestinian political prisoners come from all over Palestine, though the vast majority are from the Israeli occupied West Bank.

Military occupation means that West Bank residents live under Israeli rule but are not afforded the rights and privileges of Israeli citizenship (for example, voting, residency, etc.) Instead of regular civilian laws, they are subject to thousands of Israeli military orders which govern their lives. These laws include prohibitions against political activity, and those who are accused of breaking those laws are arrested and detained.

Israel, like other colonial regimes, has a long history of using arrest and detention as a method to repress political organising by Palestinians. During the first intifada (uprising) in the 1980’s, thousands of Palestinians were taken prisoner by Israel for their political activities. These included ‘offences’ such as organising and participating in protests, taking part in assemblies or vigils, waving flags and other political symbols, or printing and distributing political material.

The prisoner crisis remains today. As of October 2016, Israel is holding 7000 Palestinians as political prisoners, including 720 in administrative detention, 400 children and 64 women.

Issues and Themes

Photo stories

Take action

While it’s important for us to learn about the individual stories of political prisoners, we must also take action. The best form of solidarity is working to end the root cause of these violations: Israel’s military occupation and system of Apartheid.

Palestinian civil society groups have called for boycotts of and divestment (BDS) from companies complicit in Israel’s system of detention until they stop providing this material support for violations of Palestinian rights. They've also called for us to pressure our government to uphold its obligations under international law not to aid and abet war crimes.

The Stop G4S campaign is an example of a successful BDS campaign focused on Israel's prison system. Since 2007, G4S has provided equipment and services to Israeli prisons. The Stop G4S campaign was launched in 2012 on the eve of one of the largest ever mass hunger stikes undertaken by Palestinian political prisoners. After years of campaigning against the company, G4S finally announced in 2016 that it would be selling off its Israeli business. There is still more work to be done to hold G4S to its word, but it’s clear that this campaign was effective.

More info on our BDS campaigns

Latest news

National action for trade democracy

23 November 2017 - 2:30pm

Join a two day mobilisation to build the campaign for trade democracy, organised by Global Justice Now and War on Want.

Thanks to the hard work of activists on the ground, and the brazenness of the government, trade democracy is climbing up the political agenda. Over 100 MPs have signed an EDM calling for increased parliamentary scrutiny over trade deals. The SNP are calling for Scotland to have its own trade policy. People don’t want chlorinated chicken flooding UK supermarkets. Now is the time to strengthen the campaign for trade democracy.

Read more

Watch videos of "Paradises of the Earth" Web Documentary - Tunisia

23 November 2017 - 8:15am

First Episode - Gabes: Watch now!

This episode follows an international solidarity caravan to the first stop of the trip: the mediterranean oasis of Gabes in southern #Tunisia, where the installation of a chemical phosphate factory on its shores caused an ecocide deeply impacting fishing, agriculture, water resources and people's livelihoods.

Read more

Join the conversation

RT @unitetheunion: #SportsDirectShame back in action | With the proposed £11m back pay for Ashley's brother, what about the outstanding bac… 12 hours 50 min ago
The people of Jemna are fighting for their right to work on their ancestral land. See their struggle in Paradises o… https://t.co/NKPCwqm7fT 13 hours 8 min ago
RT @novaramedia: TODAY 1PM #NovaraFM Climate and Capital after COP23 with @piercepenniless @chilledasad100 and @zoozanne. You can listen l… 16 hours 31 min ago