Wednesday, February 21, 2018

26 veteran Palestinian prisoners freed as part of peace talks

Juicebox Gallery

By Mike J.C. - January 03, 2014
TAGS:
Section: [Main News] [IN PICTURES]
Tags: [prisoner release] [Settlement Expansion]

Photography by Gabriel R.

 

In the early hours of Tuesday, 31 December, 18 long-term prisoners were released to a jubilant crowd of thousands at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in Ramallah, while eight others were released hours earlier in East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. 

Israel committed to releasing 104 “veteran prisoners”—behind bars since before the 1993 Oslo Peace Accord—at the onset of the current round of talks in July 2013. The first group of 26 were released in August, and the second in late October. The fourth group is due to be released in April, coinciding with the final phase of the projected nine-month talks. 

As with the previous two phased releases, the latest batch also generated controversy and protest in Israel, because each of the 104 veteran prisoners were convicted of killing Israeli soldiers or civilians and were serving life sentences. 

Critics of Israel’s “good-will gesture” point out restrictions on movement and political activity attached as pre-conditions diminish the freedom of the released. In addition, the gesture is offset by, and provides political cover for, the expansion of illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. Days ahead of the latest release, Reuters reported that Israel would announce 1,400 new settler-housing units, just as comparable settlement expansions tarnished the previous release in October as well as the first release in August

The highly publicized release of 26 prisoners should not obscure the fact that 5,000 Palestinians remain in Israeli prisons, including almost 150 in “administrative detention,” which means without charge or trial, and more than 150 minors, with more than a dozen younger than 16. 

The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) recently released a report describing prison conditions for many Palestinian minors as “torture.”

 

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