RAMALLAH: The Palestinian Authority asked diplomats in a Wednesday meeting in the occupied West Bank to speak out on “unacceptable” conditions suffered by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

Varsen Aghabekian Shahin, the Palestinian minister of state for foreign affairs, invited mostly European diplomats as well as representatives from international organisations to show them a three-minute video containing testimonies from Palestinians detained by Israel in recent months.

The compilation of footage and media interviews point to mistreatment in Israeli jails and allegations of torture, which Israeli authorities deny.

“This is unacceptable, this is against all human rights laws, and it needs to stop,” Shahin told the meeting in Ramallah, seat of the Palestinian Authority.

The conditions of prisoners “is of much concern to us, Palestinians, and we hope it is to the world as well”, she added.

The foreign ministry, citing figures from advocacy and rights groups, said some 9,600 Palestinians are currently detained by Israel.

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Arrests and Israeli military raids in the West Bank have intensified since the Gaza war broke out with Hamas’s October 7 attack.

The Israeli prison authority has declared a “state of emergency”, effectively allowing it to worsen conditions for inmates and restrict jail visits.

According to a report handed out during Wednesday’s meeting, 18 prisoners have been “killed” in Israeli prisons since October 7.

Qadura Fares, head of the Palestinian Prisoners Club advocacy group, stressed it was often difficult to obtain information about detainees, including thousands arrested in Gaza since the start of the war, of whom he said most have probably been released.

“I believe the international community has the tools to help stop what is happening,” Fares said at the meeting.

So is there a will in the international community to stop what is happening, or is there not?“

In December, the Israeli military said it had launched an investigation into the death in custody of several Palestinians arrested in Gaza and held at the Sde Teiman base near the city of Beersheva.

Several diplomats who attended the Ramallah meeting refused to comment when approached by AFP.

Last week a spokeswoman for the United Nations rights office said it had “been receiving very worrying, very distressing reports of how Palestinian detainees are being treated by Israeli forces since October 7”.


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