United Nations, Nov 17 (EFE) – The Israeli government has suspended all humanitarian visits by the International Committee of the Red Cross to Palestinian prisoners, both in the occupied West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, since the start of the war against Hamas on Oct. 7, with no date set for their resumption, ICRC sources in New York told EFE.
The sources pointed out that this was a unilateral decision and that the ICRC is now negotiating on a confidential basis with the Israeli government to resume the visits, a task that the organization considers a priority and one of its founding missions.
In addition, the ICRC is aware from press reports that there have been “a large number of arrests (of Palestinians) by Israeli security forces” since Oct. 7 to which it has had no humanitarian access.
The Israeli human rights organization HaMoked put the number of Palestinians under “administrative detention” – held without regular court proceedings – at 1,264 on Oct. 3, just before the war in Gaza began.
“Wherever they are and whoever they are, detainees must be treated humanely and with dignity at all times; this is an international legal requirement that applies to all authorities in both Israel and the Occupied Territories,” the source told EFE.
Palestinian detainees in the Occupied Territories, they recalled, are protected by the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, and under its terms “the State of Israel has an obligation to notify the ICRC about all persons deprived of their liberty and to ensure that ICRC delegates have access to them, wherever they may be.”
According to the ICRC’s 2022 report, the organization facilitated visits by 54,000 family members to just over 5,000 detainees in Israeli prisons.
In addition, its staff made 555 visits to Palestinian detainees (including inmates in Palestinian prisons) and “contributed to the improvement of detention conditions for around 1,960 detainees in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.”
Asked about the conditions of Palestinians in Israeli detention centers (military or civilian), the source said that they would not speak publicly about this issue, but that it was part of the ongoing bilateral negotiations between the ICRC and the Government of Israel.
Finally, the source confirmed that so far the ICRC has not had access to Israeli hostages held by Hamas and therefore does not know their whereabouts or conditions. EFE