The top United Nations human rights official yesterday urged Israel to improve conditions for Palestinians prisoners, especially the more than 1,500 whose hunger-strike had entered its 38th day.
The strike followed a call by Marwan Barghouthi, a senior Fatah member, for a protest against solitary confinement, detention conditions and the Israeli policy of administrative detention, imprisonment without trial or charge.
“I am especially alarmed by reports of punitive measures by the Israeli authorities against the hunger strikers, including restricted access to lawyers and the denial of family visits” — Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement.
The right to consult a lawyer is a fundamental protection in international human rights law that should never be violated, Zeid said. He added that the health of hundreds of hunger strikers had “deteriorated significantly”.
Zeid said his office had received reports that the Israel Prison Service had evacuated at least 60 hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners to hospitals because their medical condition had worsened. A further 592 had recently been moved for observation to infirmaries set up in the prisons, he said.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which visits Palestinian detainees, urged Israel early this month to allow family visits. Under international law, these “can only be limited for security reasons, on a case by case basis, but never for strictly punitive or disciplinary purposes”, it said.
It added that “Israel detains Palestinians within its territory – but not within the occupied territory as required by the law of occupation”.
This article originally appeared on Middle East Monitor.
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