Thousands of Palestinians imprisoned in Israel without charge or trial
Israeli soldiers drive near the border with the Gaza Strip, as seen in southern Israel, February 6, 2024 | AP

More than 3,480 Palestinians are being detained in Israeli prisons without charge or trial, a prison activist group said today.

The Palestinian Prisoners Club (PPC) said those in prison include 40 children and 11 women as well as lawmakers, journalists and activists.

This comes as the Israelis snubbed a plan for a ceasefire in their war against the Palestinians in Gaza following the surprise attack by Hamas on October 7 during which 1,200 people were killed and 240 others were taken hostage.

The PPC, which was set up in 1993 to support political prisoners in Israeli occupation prisons, said the detainees were being held under “administrative detention.”

This allows the Israelis to arrest Palestinians for renewable intervals that typically range from three to six months on the basis of undisclosed evidence, which even the accused’s lawyer is prohibited from seeing.

Palestinians and international human rights groups say this form of detention violates due judicial process because it allows no evidence to be presented against prisoners while they are detained for long periods without being charged, tried or convicted.

Meanwhile, far-right Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu has refused to accept a proposed temporary peace deal that was being pushed by the United States.

Mr. Netanyahu labelled the response by Hamas to the ceasefire plan “delusional” and vowed that Israel would fight on to achieve “absolute victory,” no matter what.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was forced to return to Washington after his four-nation trip in the region, his fifth since the conflict erupted, with public divisions between his country and Israel clearly exposed.

Mr. Netanyahu’s public dismissal of a plan the U.S. openly said had merit, at least as a starting point for further negotiation, highlighted the growing divide between the two countries.

But the US continues to be the largest provider of arms for the Israeli war machine.

Despite the setback, Mr. Blinken and other U.S. officials said they remained optimistic that progress could be made on their main goals of improving humanitarian conditions for Palestinians civilians, securing the release of hostages held by Hamas, preparing for a post-conflict Gaza and preventing the war from spreading.

“Clearly there are things that Hamas sent back that are absolute non-starters,” Mr. Blinken said of the response Hamas delivered on Tuesday to a ceasefire and hostage release proposal.

“But, at the same time, we see space to continue to pursue an agreement.”

The Gaza Health Ministry said today that the Palestinian death toll had now passed 27,800, with two thirds being women and children.

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Roger McKenzie
Roger McKenzie

Roger McKenzie is the International Editor of Morning Star, Britain’s daily socialist newspaper. He is the author of the book "African Uhuru: The Fight for African Freedom in the Rise of the Global South" published by Manifesto Press.