Palestinian Prisoners in Israel

October 11, 2011 IMEU
Palestinian Prisoners in Israel

Photo: August 14, 2010 (IMEU/Jehad Saftawi)



  • Since Israel began its military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip following the 1967 War, Israel has imprisoned upwards of 700,000 Palestinians, or about 20% of the population of the occupied territories.
  • According to the Israel Prison Service, at the end of August 2011 there were approximately 5200 Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons, including 272 who were being held in administrative detention without charge or trial. According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights the number of Palestinians in Israeli prisons is actually more than 6000.
  • Those who are charged are subjected to Israeli military courts that human rights organizations have criticized for failing to meet the minimum standards required for a fair trial.
  • According to Amnesty International’s 2011 Annual Report on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories: “Palestinians in the [occupied territories] subject to Israel’s military justice system continued to face a wide range of abuses of their right to a fair trial. They are routinely interrogated without a lawyer and, although they are civilians, are tried before military not ordinary courts.”
  • The same Amnesty report states: “Consistent allegations of torture and other ill-treatment, including of children, were frequently reported. Among the most commonly cited methods were beatings, threats to the detainee or their family, sleep deprivation, and being subjected to painful stress positions for long periods. Confessions allegedly obtained under duress were accepted as evidence in Israeli military and civilian courts.”
  • 2000 Palestinian prisoners recently began a hunger strike to protest the conditions in which they are being held.



  • Israel uses a procedure known as administrative detention to imprison Palestinians without charge or trial.
  • There are currently about 270 Palestinians being held in administrative detention.
  • Although there are none currently being held in administrative detention, Israeli authorities have in the past used the procedure against Palestinian children as well as adults.



  • Since September 2000, Israel has arrested and imprisoned more than 7000 Palestinian children.
  • Like all Palestinians from the occupied territories, they are subjected to Israeli military tribunals.
  • As of August 2011, there were 180 Palestinian minors being held in Israeli prisons. Of those, 34 were between the ages of 12-15.
  • Palestinian children are frequently arrested in the middle of the night by Israeli soldiers, taken away without their parents, and roughly interrogated without a guardian or lawyer present.
  • According to a recent report by the Israeli NGO No Legal Frontiers, which followed the cases of 71 Palestinian children as they made their way through the Israeli military court system:
    • The most common offense was throwing stones and Molotov cocktails. In most cases the object was not actually thrown, did not hit a target, or cause any damage. In no case was serious harm caused.
    • In 94% of cases the children were held in pre-trial detention and not released on bail.
    • In 100% of cases, the children were convicted of an offense.
    • 87% of them were subjected to some form of physical violence while in custody.
  • Under pressure from human rights organizations and children's rights advocates, the Israeli army recently announced that it would raise the age that Palestinians are treated as adults from 16 to 18 years of age, however, critics complain that they are still subject to the same unjust and abusive treatment accorded Palestinian adults.