The Arab League has turned to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to stand up for the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and help end the regime’s rights abuses there.
On Wednesday, Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit sent a letter to ICRC President Peter Maurer, calling on the committee to “urgently intervene with Israeli authorities to stop the various abuses being committed against those prisoners of war.”
Since April 17, over 1,500 Palestinian inmates have been refusing food in protest at the conditions of Israeli prisons.
The open-ended hunger strike was initially called by Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences in an Israeli prison for his role in the second Palestinian Intifada (uprising) against Tel Aviv.
Barghouti has accused Israel of “inhumane” treatment of prisoners and “judicial apartheid” in a New York Times opinion piece published earlier this month outlining the reasons behind the mass hunger strike.
Reports said earlier this week that Barghouti’s health conditions have been critically deteriorating during the past week.
Israel says the prisoners “are terrorists” and their demands are “unreasonable.”
The letter further urged the ICRC to demand Israel “ensure treating Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike according to norms and standards set in international humanitarian law.”
The Arab League said in a statement that Aboul Gheit’s letter is part of contacts “with international actors to stop violations against Palestinian prisoners of war in Israeli prisons.”
On Tuesday, the Arab League head sent a similar letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, calling on him to condemn Israeli human rights violations.
He also said the world body should take practical measures and make the regime respect international law as the occupying power, based on the Fourth Geneva Convention.
The UN said last week that it is keeping a close eye on the situation of more than a thousand Palestinian prisoners.
Palestinians have held several protest rallies in recent days to show their solidarity with those behind bars.
The Palestinian Authority has warned that the death of any hunger-striking prisoner may lead to a new Intifada.
Israeli prisons hold around 6,500 Palestinians, including 300 minors. Some of the inmates are held under Tel Aviv’s policy of administrative detention, which enables confinement without charge.