(CHICAGO 10/11/2011) — The American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) hails the news that Israeli occupation forces will free more than 1,000 Palestinian political prisoners in return for the release of one Israeli soldier. Palestinian and Israeli officials announced the deal separately on Tuesday.
At the same time, we condemn plans to deport 40 Palestinians to an unnamed foreign country, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an occupying power from deporting the people it occupies from their homeland. We must also remember that despite the release of 1,027 Palestinians from unlawful detention, thousands more are still languishing in Israeli prisons.
At the end of August, 5,204 Palestinians were incarcerated in Israeli prisons; and 272 of them were being held indefinitely without charge, according to Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem. Other human rights organizations have reported there are more than 6,000 Palestinians being detained. More than 200 prisoners have been on a hunger strike to protest the substandard conditions in which they are forced to live.
“These arrests and detentions are vestiges of Israel’s cruel and inhumane occupation of the Palestinian people,” said Dr. Hatem Bazian, AMP chairman. “Since Israel occupied the remainder of Palestine in 1967, they have incarcerated 20 percent of the Palestinian population, in direct contravention of international law. This is unjust and is a strong obstacle to achieving peace in the region.”
Among Palestinians to be released are at least 27 women, 180 children and those who have been given life sentences and/or have spent more than 20 years as political detainees in prisons within Israel, according to media reports.
AMP urges people to remember that the thousands of Palestinians left behind in Israeli prisons are more than statistics. They are human beings with names and families. They are people with lives full of stories and memories, hopes and fears, laughter and tears; and, like us, they have dreams of the future.
One of children being released most likely is 15-year-old, Ahmed D., who was violently yanked from his bed in East Jerusalem at 2 a.m. on Sept. 14, the Swiss-based Defence for Children International – Palestine Section wrote. Sameer S., 12, of Azzun village, is another child who was arrested recently, also at 2 a.m. And Ayed Dudeen is a father of six, who was released in June after being held without charge for 3 and a half years. He was rearrested in August and again is being held without charge, according to prisoner rights organization Addameer.
“Palestinian political prisoners are a byproduct of occupation, which is the source of all injustice and instability in the region,” Dr. Bazian said. “International laws guarantee all people the right to resist their occupation and to see their own freedom and self-determination.”
It is time for the last and longest occupation in the modern world to end. America was built on the universal values of freedom, liberty and dignity. We, Americans, have been fighting for these values around the globe for centuries.
AMP stands in solidarity with Palestinian political prisoners. We continue to call on Congress to pressure Israel to release all political prisoners. Congress must also end military aid to Israel and continue to pressure Israel to end the occupation of the Palestinian people and lift the siege on Gaza. Congress, whose very existence is owed to the struggle for freedom, liberty and justice more than 200 years ago, must ultimately agree that Palestinians deserve these inalienable rights, too.