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Source: United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG)
14 March 2012



ISRAEL: UNITED NATIONS RIGHTS EXPERT APPEALS FOR URGENT RELEASE OF PALESTINIAN WOMAN PRISONER ON HUNGER STRIKE
14 March 2012


The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Richard Falk, expressed deep worry regarding Hana Shalabi, a Palestinian woman currently detained by Israel who has been on hunger strike for nearly a month.

“The situation of Ms. Shalabi is morbid and life-threatening. This is an appeal to the conscience and to humanity and a desperate call to all of us,” Mr. Falk stressed, urging the international community to intervene on her behalf. “Israel ought to end its inhumane treatment of Ms. Shalabi. Release her immediately.”

The human rights expert noted that “Ms. Shalabi’s hunger strike is against Israel’s abusive use of detention without charges and the degrading and physically harsh treatment administered during her arrest, interrogation, and detention process.”

Ms. Shalabi was arrested on 16 February and has been on hunger strike since. “She is being held in solitary confinement. She has been treated inhumanely. In the presence of her family she was blindfolded and treated roughly by several of the 50 Israeli soldiers sent to arrest her, as was her brother who tried to protect her,” the United Nations Special Rapporteur said. He expressed further concern that Ms. Shalabi’s 65-year old mother and 67-year old father also committed themselves to a hunger strike on 23 February.

Mr. Falk denounced the silence to Ms. Shalabi’s fate in Israel and the international community, and called on the Israeli authorities not to continue to disregard its responsibilities under international law. “The abusive treatment of Palestinian prisoners by Israel remains a cause of grave concern and the international community must continue to raise its voice for those risking their own lives to end injustice,” Mr. Falk said.

Earlier this year, the independent expert twice appealed for the release of Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan, who held a 66 day hunger strike protesting his humiliating detention and treatment by Israeli security forces, and his objection to Israel’s use of detention without charges. The Israeli authorities agreed to release him in mid-April.

Last February, during his latest mission* to the region, the Special Rapporteur focused on the Israeli practice of detaining Palestinians without charges. “The Government of Israel calls this ‘administrative detention,’ but it is more honestly termed detention without charges, or arbitrary detention,” he said.

Several experts on prison conditions consulted by the independent expert during his mission raised concerns regarding physical, verbal and psychological abuse; lack of access to proper medical treatment; medical neglect; widespread use of solitary confinement for extended periods; overcrowding and decrepit cells; and the lack of family visits.

At the end of his mission, Mr. Falk noted that Israel currently has approximately 300 Palestinians detained without charges. “I have requested information regarding each of these persons,” he said, “and I intend to follow up on each case and address this matter in my forthcoming report to the Human Rights Council,” due in June 2012. There are also an estimated 4,400 Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons.



(*) Check the Special Rapporteur’s end-of-mission statement: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=11846&LangID=E

In 2008, the UN Human Rights Council designated Richard Falk (United States of America) as the fifth Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights on Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. The mandate was originally established in 1993 by the UN Commission on Human Rights. Learn more, log on to:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/countries/ps/mandate/index.htm

OHCHR Country Page – Occupied Palestinian Territories:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/MENARegion/Pages/PSIndex.aspx

OHCHR Country Page – Israel:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/ILIndex.aspx

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