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Call for action: April 17th Palestinian Prisoners Day

International Solidarity Movement, Gaza

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) Gaza calls for a global day of action to draw attention to Palestinian political prisoners who are illegally detained in Israel. April 17th marks the Palestinian Prisoners Day, a day in commemoration of the 5834 Palestinians who are currently (as of February 1st, 2011) held in Israeli prisons. No less than 221 of them are children and 798 of them are serving life sentences.

We call upon you to organize events on April 17th or during that week in your countries to oppose Israel’s numerous violations of human rights and international law concerning Palestinian prisoners.

Increase awareness, empower the public, pressure your local and national representatives to hold Israel to account, and demand the following:

* Stop child imprisonment!
* No more administrative detentions in the West Bank!
(These are detentions used to arrest human rights defenders and others requiring no official justification, holding them for 6 months without charge and which are frequently prolonged by a further 6 months)
* Halt the physical and psychological torture of prisoners!
* Grant the right to Gazan prisoners to receive family visits!

Gazans in Israeli jails have not been allowed to receive visitors since June 2007.

Israel receives huge global publicity for Gilad Shalit, the sole Israeli prisoner that is currently held in Palestine, while the world remains largely silent about the 5834 Palestinians that are incarcerated in Israel. They and their families remain anonymous and lifeless in the Western media and political circles despite the huge number of people effected. While torture is common practice in Israeli prisons, Israeli governmental authorities instantly threaten that the “sky will fall” if Shalit is harmed.

“Of course, there is torture in prison. But it is not the worst, physical wounds heal. The psychological torment is much more severe. The guards would wake us up in the middle of the night and get us out of our cells, while they trample the Holy Koran and steal our most personal possessions like letters and pictures”, says a man who was recently released.

As ISM Gaza we especially want to draw attention to the case of Gazan prisoners. Since June 2007, Israel has banned all Gazans from visiting their relatives incarcerated in Israel. The 676 Gazans that are currently imprisoned in Israel have therefore not received a single visitor for nearly four years. Gaza detainees, many of whom are held indefinitely without trial, have since been in virtual isolation, as they are generally not allowed to communicate through phone or over the internet, and are only occasionally allowed to send out a letter to their families.

Because Gazan prisoners are denied family visits, they also have restricted access to basic necessities in prison – such as clothing and money – as visits are often the prisoners’ sole means of accessing these items. Lawyers are prohibited from transferring money to a prisoner and the Israeli Prisoners’ Service insist that only relatives may transfer money, which is obviously impossible.

We are in touch with local organizations and have family members and ex-prisoners that are willing to talk to you through a skype conference that we would be happy to set up with you.

Please contact ISM Gaza by emailing gazaism@gmail.com for more detailed information.

Please ACT in the week of 17th April in the name of Palestinian men, women and children in Israeli prisons who have no voice and like all Palestinians, still have no justice.