Selection of Palestinian detainees to be released solely reflects Israeli criteria


Addameer Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association

Press Release - 5 August 2003

On the morning of 4 August 2003, the Israeli Prisons` Services published on their website a list of names of Palestinian prisoners and detainees expected to be released on Wednesday 6 August 2003. Of the 342 Palestinian prisoners slated for release, 159 are administrative detainees and 183 have been sentenced. Upon close examination of the published list, Addameer has observed the following:

- All administrative detainees included on the list are due to complete their detention orders within a very short period of time, including one detainee whose detention order expires today. Administrative detention is a form of arbitrary detention, whereby detainees are held without charge or trial. All administrative detainees should be immediately released.

- 52 prisoners will have served their sentences in 2004.

- 32 detainees will have served their entire detention period in 2005.

- 2 of the listed prisoners have almost completed serving sentences of 15 years each: Hussein Sulieman Abueid - due to be released on 8 November 2005; and Hammad Hashim Smeiri - due to be released on 17 July 2004. Both detainees are from the Gaza Strip and are charged with membership in Islamic Jihad.

- The sentences being served by prisoners on the list are based on charges including stone throwing, possession of weapons and using weapons in situations where no one was injured. This corresponds to previously published statements of Israeli criteria for prisoner releases.

The breakdown of those listed for release according to political affiliation is as follows:

52 - Hamas or Islamic Bloc (student movement)
15 - Islamic Jihad
4 - Fatah
3 - Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)
1 - Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLF)
1 - Force 17 (PA security service-Presidential Guard)
1 - Popular Resistance Committees
7 - assistance to a group without specifying affiliation
99 - charged with activities without representing any particular affiliation

The published list of prisoners and detainees to be released does not include Palestinians from Jerusalem and Palestinians from 1948 Palestinian areas, nor does it include any Arab prisoners. It also does not include any of the 75 Palestinian female prisoners. Of the 360 Palestinian child detainees and prisoners in Israeli prisons, only 13 have been named for release.

There are currently over 5,400 Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons and detention centers, including 3 prisoners who have spent over 26 years in prison, 11 who have spent more than 20 years in prison and 75 who have served over 15 years in prison. There are now approximately 750 Palestinians in administrative detention, who should be immediately released based on the fact that there have been no charges brought against them.

Addameer views the selection of detainees to be released as an empty and insubstantial gesture, rather than the so-called confidence building and good will measures Israel purports to. In its selection process, Israel has further divided the prisoners issue and has reflected only its own conditions for prisoner releases, irrespective of any other criteria. Addameer again calls for the unconditional and immediate release of all Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israeli prisons.