The Arab league has demanded Palestinian detainees be treated as prisoners of war and for international intervention to secure their release.
The Arab League held a special meeting on Tuesday to discuss the issue of Palestinian and Arab prisoners in Israeli prisons. The meeting hosted a Palestinian delegation which was sent to Cairo to discuss the issue with Egyptian officials.
A statement released on Wednesday condemned Israel for re-arresting Palestinians who were released in a prisoner swap deal and expressed concern over the conditions for Palestinians and Arabs in Israeli prisons.
The delegates called upon the United Nations Human Rights Council to hold Israel to its commitments to human rights agreements, including the Geneva Convention. They also called on the council to commit to classifying Palestinian and Arab prisoners in Israel as prisoners of war.
A request was also made in the statement for Arab members of the UN general assembly to apply pressure for a special session to discuss the issue and request a resolution including the opinion of the International Court of Justice.
In addition the delegates called for an international media and political campaign to show solidarity with the prisoners to help secure their release. The statement also called on the Red Cross to “shoulder its legal and humanitarian obligations towards prisoners and intensify its contact with Israel to stop the dangerous practices against prisoners.”
The Arab League expressed particular concern for prisoners who are currently on a hunger strike adding that it “holds Israel fully responsible for the deterioration of their health and the threat to their lives.”
According to the Palestinian Prisoner Club Association, Samer Al-Issawi is currently on day 167 of a hunger strike in an Israeli prison. Ayman Cherauna, another prisoner is also taking part in an extended hunger strike.
The issue of Palestinian prisoners has come to the forefront recently following the re-arrest of several Palestinians who were released as part of a prisoner swap deal, brokered by Egypt in 2011. The deal involved a swap of an Israeli soldier for 1,000 Palestinian. Al-Issawi was arrested in 2012 for breaching the conditions of his release.
In December there were 4,656 political prisoners in Israeli prisons, according to the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association’s monthly detention report. The report said of these prisoners, 11 were women, 177 were children and 13 were Palestinian Legislative Council members.