JVP statement on Israeli-Palestinian prisoner deal
Jewish Voice for Peace welcomes the deal between Israel and Hamas for the release of over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. This deal proves what we've been saying in JVP all along: Israel can and must talk with Hamas.
The release of Gilad Shalit, captured while on active duty in the Israeli Army and captive for five years in Gaza without access to visits by International Committee of the Red Cross, is undoubtedly good news. As well, the families of Palestinian prisoners are reuniting with their family members. Jewish Voice for Peace welcomes the relief that will come to these families.
Since 1967, approximately 20% of the Palestinian population has been in jail at some time. Currently, between 5000 and 6000 Palestinian prisoners, including children, are in Israeli jails, ranging from those who remain in administrative detention without charges, to those imprisoned for political activity, to murderers of civilians. The military court system, which Amnesty International, B'tselem and other human rights organizations have criticized for not meeting the minimum standards for a fair trial, is a crucial part of the system of control that Israel imposes as part and parcel of the Occupation.
Many Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are being held in inhumane conditions. There are currently reports that as many as 2,000 Palestinian prisoners are on hunger strike—now in its third week—calling for their rights and dignity to be respected. Jewish Voice for Peace supports the basic demands for humane treatment of the Palestinian hunger-striking prisoners.