Israel must end its illegal detention policies
Israel is holding 6,300 Palestinians as political prisoners.
Some 500 of them are being held in administrative detention, without being
charged or standing trial, held on secret evidence not even available to their
lawyers. 300 of the political prisoners are children under the age of 18.
There is no semblance of due process or impartiality in a
system where the occupying army is the judge, jury and executioner. On 17 April
2017, some 1,500 Palestinian political prisoners began a mass hunger strike in
protest over Israel’s illegal and unjust detention policies.
Israel’s detention policies and practices violate
international law, even amounting to war crimes. The UK government must impose
sanctions by introducing an arms embargo on Israel to prevent these policies
The UK government has obligations under international law to ensure that the Fourth Geneva Convention is respected by other signatories, including Israel. The UK also has ‘third state responsibility’ to take action when a state breaches the universally binding principles of international law, such as the prohibition of torture. This means that the UK government must act to hold Israel to account for its policies towards Palestinian political prisoners.
Experience has shown that gentle pressure on this issue simply will not work. In February 2016, Israeli authorities refused to facilitate meetings and site visits for a delegation of British lawyers to examine the conditions of detained Palestinian children. The delegation was meant to be following up on a 2012 FCO-supported report about Palestinian children in Israeli military custody. If the Israeli authorities are not willing to meet with FCO-sponsored UK lawyers, then the government should have taken steps to hold them to account.
The FCO’s 2015 Human Rights and Democracy report lists sanctions such as arms embargoes as a tool to promote human rights and democracy. The intransigence of the Israeli authorities has made clear that sanctions are long over-due.
Tell the FCO to impose sanctions by introducing an arms embargo on Israel to hold it account for its war crimes and other violations of international law.