Israeli embassy attacks Amnesty over hunger strike report

Palestinian protesters demonstrating on behalf of the hunger strikers

Palestinian protesters demonstrating on behalf of the hunger strikers

Israel is guilty of torture and human-rights violations and must end its policy of detaining Palestinian prisoners without charge or trial, according to a new report by Amnesty International.

Starved of justice: Palestinians detained without trial by Israel documents what the charity says are measures used to suppress “legitimate and peaceful activities” within the Occupied Territories.

It was prompted by the hunger strikes of Palestinian detainees Khader Adnan and Hana Shalabi earlier this year, which led to thousands of Palestinians demanding an end to administrative detention.

The Israeli embassy in London declared Amnesty had become “ridiculous”.

Amnesty admits that its latest report “is not intended to address violations of detainees’ rights by the Palestinian Authority, or the Hamas de facto administration. These violations have been and will continue to be addressed separately by the organisation”.

Amnesty said that, at the end of April, Israel was holding at least 308 Palestinian administrative detainees, including 24 Palestinian Legislative Council members, journalists, human-rights activists and students. In a May deal, Israel agreed to end solitary confinement for prisoners who had been isolated for up to a decade and agreed to lift a ban on family visits for Gazan prisoners.

Amnesty claims that the Israel Prison Service (IPS) systematically punished hunger strikers, with IPS staff physically assaulting them and took a range of other measures against the detainees.

Amir Ofek, press attaché at the Israeli Embassy in London, said: “Amnesty cannot be taken seriously any more. This report proves that, when it comes to Israel, Amnesty is now just the leftovers of an organisation of the same name which once enjoyed a lot of credibility.

“They did not even bother to contact Israel, even out of courtesy, before publishing the report.”
Meanwhile, analysis group NGO Monitor accused Amnesty International of hiring a researcher with an “extensive background in anti-Israel activism”.

NGO Monitor claimed Deborah Hyams had volunteered as a human shield in Palestinian villages and had written that Israel was a “terrorist state” guilty of “ethnic cleansing” before she began working for the charity in 2010.

But Amnesty said: “NGO Monitor repeatedly attacks AI and other organisations that report on Israel. We do not give any credence to their comments.”

NGO Monitor president Gerald Steinberg responded: “The evidence is very clear that she has been involved in radical anti-Israel activism.

“Amnesty has been steadily declining in its implementation of standards of impartiality in regard to Israel for years. When you hire someone like Deborah Hyams there’s no leg to stand on in claiming to have no bias. There is no debate and they have no credibility.”

Last updated: 8:51am, June 8 2012