BNC Statement

Israel holds over 10,000 Palestinians captive. This Palestinian Prisoners’ Day act to #FreeThemAll

Israel is abusing and torturing thousands of Palestinian prisoners. The BDS movement calls for urgent and meaningful pressure to #FreeThemAll.

Today, April 17th, is #PalestinianPrisonersDay. The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition in Palestinian society, condemns the complicity of silence surrounding Israel's relentless policy of mass arrests and the systematic and horrific infringement of the most basic rights of the Palestinian political prisoners in its prisons and detention centers, as an integral component of Israel’s genocidal apartheid regime. We commit to intensifying our campaigns with our partners globally to #FreeThemAll. 

This year, Palestinians in Gaza are enduring an ongoing live-streamed genocide, and Palestinians everywhere are enduring an ongoing Nakba. Since the beginning of Israel’s genocide against 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza, unknown numbers of Palestinians have been rounded up, detained, stripped, severely tortured and taken to numerous locations where their fate remains unknown. An investigation by Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, published on April 15 2024, found that: 

“Since the onset of the genocidal military campaign against Gaza, Israeli forces have detained at least 3,000 Palestinian residents of Gaza, including women, children, elderly people, as well as professionals such as doctors, nurses, teachers and journalists.”

Across the West Bank, Israel has embarked on a campaign of arbitrary mass arrest. Over 8,000 Palestinians have been detained over the last 6 months.

Over the last 12 months, the number of Palestinian prisoners languishing in Israeli dungeons has more than doubled, the number of Palestinian female prisoners has more than doubled, and the number of Palestinian administrative detainees (held without charge) has almost tripled.

We must act now to #FreeThemAll. The BDS movement calls on our supporters and partners worldwide to take meaningful action by escalating all BDS campaigns to isolate Israel’s genocidal regime of settler-colonialism and apartheid and its complicit institutions and corporations. We call also for intensifying boycott and divestment pressure on corporations that are implicated in Israel’s violations of prisoners’ human rights.

Palestinian Prisoners in 2024

Under all Israeli governments our prisoners have faced the oppressor’s repression and violence with resilience and collective strikes to achieve the bare minimum of rights that the apartheid authorities are now stripping away. Under Israel’s current genocidal regime, our prisoners are facing unprecedented brutality and sadistic treatment. Their capacity to resist, to fight for their dignity and basic rights in the face of utter dehumanization, is a beacon for Palestinian steadfastness.

In the West Bank

Since the beginning of Israel’s genocide in Gaza, apartheid Israel’s occupation forces have inflicted a campaign of collective punishment via mass arbitrary arrests of Palestinians. According to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club figures in the first week of April, 8,095 Palestinians in the West Bank have been arrested since October. A recent joint statement by the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club and the Commission for Ex-Prisoners Affairs detailed that many of those arrested were subjected to “severe beatings, threats against detainees and their families, and vandalism and destruction of [their] homes.”

Mass arrest of Palestinians is nothing new, but the current wave is unprecedented. According to a 2017 report by Addameer, over the past 50 years, more than 800,000 Palestinians have been imprisoned or detained by Israel. This figure is now believed to be closer to 1 million (out of a total population of 5.5 million Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem). About 40% of Palestinian men and boys living under Israel’s military occupation have been deprived of their freedom at least once in their life. Almost every Palestinian family has suffered the imprisonment of a loved one. 

In Gaza

Since the beginning of Israel’s genocide, unknown numbers of Palestinans in Gaza have been forcibly disappeared or taken hostage from Gaza. Here is a snapshot of what we do know:

On December 8, 2023, footage, verified by Amnesty International, showed over 100 Palestinian men and boys stripped to their underwear, blindfolded, bound and made to kneel in Northern Gaza. Since then, similar images have surfaced again and again. 

On December 18, 2023, Israeli newspaper Haaretz published an article revealing 100’s of Palestinians from Gaza were being held at a detention facility near Biʾr as-Sabʿ (Beersheba) in the Naqab (Negev) desert. Many had been held captive for weeks, blindfolded and handcuffed for most of the day. The report detailed numerous Palestinians killed in captivity at the facility. 

Following Israel’s recent 2-week siege of, and horrific massacre of hundreds of Palestinians in, Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza, which began on March 18 2024, many Palestinians are still searching for their family members, unsure whether they were murdered by Israeli forces or taken hostage to a concentration camp for prisoners. 

On April 4, 2024, an Israeli doctor published a letter detailing Palestinian detainees regularly underwent amputations for injuries caused by handcuffs at Sde Teiman, Beersheba, what Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor has called a new Guantanamo Bay. The letter detailed the widespread and systematic severe and unprecedented torture of Palestinian hostages, the doctor stated that: “inmates are fed through straws, defecate in diapers and are held [in] constant restraints.”

On April 15, 2024, an investigation by Al-Mezan detailed that since October 7th, Israeli forces have detained over 3,000 Palestinians from Gaza, including men, women, children and the elderly. The report detailed that detainees were “subjected to multiple forms of cruelty, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment from the moment they are arrested and continue throughout their detention at interrogation centers.” In its conclusions Al-Mezan outline:

Article II(b) of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide expressly articulates that causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group can constitute a genocidal act, thus firmly situating it within the legal framework of the crime of genocide. The systematic and widespread torture inflicted upon Palestinian detainees in Israeli custody also constitutes the crimes against humanity of torture and persecution. Al Mezan calls upon the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to swiftly issue arrest warrants against all individuals implicated in perpetrating and/or ordering such egregious crimes.

Our call

In response to Israel’s ongoing brutal measures of repression and torture against Palestinian prisoners and hostages, the BDS movement calls for escalating all BDS campaigns against Israel and in particular the #BoycottHP and #NoTechForApartheid campaigns, due to the direct complicity of HPE, Google and Amazon in Israel’s crimes against our prisoners and hostages.

HP Enterprise (HPE) provides servers, data storage and data security services for Israel's prisons, where Palestinian political prisoners and child prisoners are held hostage in inhumane conditions and are often tortured. In 2017, HPE was contracted to maintain video conferencing systems for the Israeli police. In 2021, HP was contracted yet again to maintain servers for Israel Police until 2023, in the amount of NIS 4 million.

Tech corporations like Google and Amazon are directly complicit in Israel’s widespread and systematic arrest and torture of Palestinians. Project Nimbus provides the cloud platform for Israel’s AI-powered, live-streamed genocide, including the mass arrest, torture of Palestinian prisoners and hostages. 

Join the #NoTechForApartheid campaign to pressure Google and Amazon to end this criminal complicity through divestment and boycotts, whenever feasible, among other strategic actions.

Take action

Against this backdrop of severe Israeli repression, we need your meaningful solidarity to fight back. With your support, BDS campaigns are having an unprecedented impact in isolating Israel’s regime of settler-colonial apartheid and the corporations and institutions that enable its crimes against Indigenous Palestinians.

To show meaningful solidarity with Palestinian prisoners, take the following 7 actions:

  1. Lobby your government and parliament to immediately impose a security and #MilitaryEmbargo on Israel, as called for by the UN Human Rights Council and dozens of UN human rights experts. This should include the sale and transfer of weapons and dual-use technology, cutting of military funding in the case of the US and a ban on importing Israeli arms and spyware and on joint military and security projects.

  2. Declare your community, trade union, association, church, workplace, student government/union, city council, business, or other organization an Apartheid Free Zone (AFZ), and exclude companies that are complicit in apartheid.

  3. Act now against these companies profiting from the genocide of the Palestinian people. Ending all state, corporate and institutional complicity with Israel’s genocidal regime is more urgent than ever. Our lives and livelihoods literally depend on it.

  4. Boycott all academic, cultural, sports, and tourism engagements in apartheid Israel or supported/sponsored by Israel (or its lobby groups and complicit institutions).

  5. Join a BDS campaign or a strategic Palestine solidarity group near you to act collectively and effectively.

  6. Expose mainstream media’s almost complete erasure of the plight of the thousands of Palestinian prisoners, hostages and disappeared, challenging their blatant bias, racism, and hypocrisy and demanding fair coverage.

  7. The #BDS movement calls on you to pressure your elected officials today through direct communication or direct action, to demand the International Criminal Court (ICC) urgently prosecute Israeli leaders for #GazaGenocide, apartheid and war crimes. 

Channel your moral outrage strategically and mobilize to #FreeThemAll and end #GazaGenocide! 

Prisoner Testimonies

Palestinians taken prisoner/hostage from both the West Bank and Gaza have given testimonies detailing horrific and sadistic abuse and torture by their Israeli jailers including beatings, verbal abuse, sexual abuse and rape, breaking of limbs, burns, being stripped naked, and forced drug taking. 

Walid Anwar Yousif al-Khalili, a Palestine Medical Relief Society (PMRS) Paramedic from Gaza City:

Before starting their investigation, I was forced to take the hallucinatory pill. The masked persons strongly pulled my hands to the back, causing me severe pain, and I fainted for some time. They then started investigating me and again addressing me with the same accusations that I belong to Hamas and took part in the October 7th events as a member of al-Qassam’s elite forces. I denied all of that, so they forced me into ‘shabeh’ (shackling my hands and legs to the chair) until I wished to die, wanting relief from pain and agony. This continued for several hours sporadically, and they then forced me out to a yard for some time with my hands tied. Whenever I move my hands, the cuffs press on my wrists, causing injuries and leaving marks on them. They then returned me to the investigation room and forced me again in the ‘shabeh’ position but this time tying me to the door for hours.

Ramzi al-Abbasi, a Palestinian prisoner from Jerusalem, released from an Israeli jail in November 2023:

I left behind me 7,000 prisoners in very dire conditions…We were abused constantly, in unimaginable ways. We were beaten everywhere… Especially in Al-Naqab prison. Al-Naqab prison is basically a cemetery. There are more than 3,000 prisoners in Al-Naqab prison. Some of them had their legs broken. Some of them had their arms broken...The situation is devastating psychologically, physically and mentally…The prisoners are abused. They are being constantly beaten. They are sexually assaulted. They are being raped. I am not exaggerating. The prisoners are being raped.

Palestinian political prisoners in numbers

According to the April 4th  figures from Addameer, the Palestinian Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, there are currently 9,500 Palestinian political prisoners (4,900 in 2023) in Israeli prisons and detention centers.

This number includes approximately 3,660 “administrative detainees,” those arrested on “secret evidence” that neither they nor their lawyers are permitted to see or refute in court. 

Also held in Israeli dungeons are 200 Palestinian child prisoners (160 in 2023), from the ages of 12 - 17 and 80 Palestinian female prisoners (30 in 2023).

On April 15, 2024, an investigation by Al-Mezan detailed that since October 7th, Israeli forces have detained over 3,000 Palestinians from Gaza, including men, women, children and the elderly.


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