Apr. 21, 2017
- The Palestinian Prisoners’ Hunger Strike – Marc Schulman
On Monday, 1,000 Palestinian prisoners – most of whom had been convicted of acts of terrorism – began a hunger strike, demanding better conditions in Israeli prisons. The strike is being led by Marwan Barghouti, leader of the Tanzim terrorist groups during the second intifada, which was characterized by suicide bombings that killed hundreds of Israeli civilians throughout Israel. (On a personal note, during this period, bombs went off killing dozens at a cafe across the street from where my daughter was living at the time and in a university cafeteria she had passed through a few minutes before.)
The one area that doesn’t keep me up at night is how we treat our convicted terrorists. Compared with American supermax prisons, conditions at Israeli prisons are excellent. The list of demands that Barghouti’s group has published centers on having access to a public phone, having a second monthly visit by relatives and bringing back academic studies that were once available.
Barghouti claimed in a New York Times op-ed that 90% of accused Palestinians are convicted by Israeli courts. But in the U.S., the conviction rate in federal court is 95%. He complains that “transporting the prisoners” to jails inside Israel creates special hardships on families. Yet the casual reader might not know that the maximum distance from Ramallah (the center of the West Bank) to any of Israel’s prisons is less than 100 miles, a distance that relatives of those arrested in New York City would be pleased to travel, instead of the 340 miles to Attica prison, or to the supermax in Fremont, Colorado.
Considering the state of the Middle East at the moment, the treatment of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails is barely on anyone’s radar. Embracing an individual directly responsible for the murder of numerous Israeli civilians is not the way out of the conflict. (Newsweek)