Free all Palestinian political prisoners

FRFI 168 August / September 2002

Marwan Barghouti, General Secretary of Al Fatah, continues to be held in solitary confinement in the Petach Tikva Detention Centre. He is being tortured and deprived of sleep. On 18 July his trial was further postponed for at least another 13 days. Barghouti began a hunger strike on 11 July.

Barghouti is just one of many leaders of the Intifada being held in such conditions by the Zionists. They include Jamal al-Tawil, Riyad al-Ali, Ali Jarradat and Abd al-Hakim Musalima. In June the Deputy General Secretary of the PFLP, Abd al-Rahim Mallouh was also arrested. The 13 Palestinian fighters transported from Bethlehem with the complicity of the Labour government have now been sent to several European countries. Another 26 fighters from the siege at the Church of the Nativity remain exiled in Gaza.

The General Secretary of the PFLP, Ahmad Saadat, is still being held by Arafat’s Palestinian Authority (PA), despite being cleared by the Palestinian Supreme Court of Justice. The PA claims Comrade Saadat’s detention is to protect him from Zionist attack.

Altogether, by 17 July over 7,500 Palestinians were being held in Zionist detention centres, most of them without charge or trial. New centres are being opened as the number of Palestinian political prisoners continues to rise. Conditions are appalling. According to LAW, the Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights, prisoners are being interrogated for days on end, beaten and threatened with execution. Cells are crowded, the food is unfit for human consumption and many prisoners are being denied medical attention.

The struggle to free all Palestinian political prisoners is a crucial part of any campaign in Britain to support the Intifada.
• Between 28 September 2000 and the end of July 2002, 1,700 Palestinians were murdered. 85% of the casualties were civilian, 22.4% children. 345 were killed by heavy weapons; 1,039 by live ammunition.
• Over 30,000 have been injured, 33% by live ammunition, 36% of them children.
• The number of investigations into IDF action resulting in civilian casualties: none.
• There are some 700,000 people under curfew across the West Bank. The movements of 2.2 million are severely restricted.
• 65% of the adult Palestinian population are unemployed; 75% of the population live in poverty (less than $2 per day).
• 30% of Palestinian children under 5 suffer chronic malnutrition or stunted growth whilst 21% suffer from acute malnutrition.
• Since 29 March 2002, 15,000 Palestinians have been detained, 7,500 of whom remain in prison. Of these 1,700 prisoners are in administrative detention – they have not been tried but can be imprisoned indefinitely without charges. 170 children are in detention.
• Settler population has increased by 5.2% in the last year, or 10,847, in Gaza and the West Bank (not including East Jerusalem). 14 new settlement villages recently were approved for Negev and the Galilee, to ‘ensure a land reserved for future generations’ (Ariel Sharon).


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