The Palestinian Prisoner day protests took place within hours of the death of Palestinian prisoner Raed Abu Hamad in his cell at Eshel Prison. Hamad, who was serving a ten year sentence, had been in solitary confinement for the past 18 months and, according to his lawyer, had been continually denied medical treatment.
In the region of 7000 Palestinians are believed to be currently incarcerated in appalling conditions in Israeli jails. Around 300 of those are in what is known as "administrative detention" - in short, they have been interned without trial.
Those prisoners who were ‘convicted’ did not receive fair trials as they were subject to Israeli military law and had their cases heard in biased non-jury military courts, making a mockery of Israel's claims to be a 'liberal democracy'. Among those detained are around 300 children, and according to human rights organisations, that figure is on the increase.
Abdallah Abu Rahmah is co-ordinator of the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall. Bil’in has come to international attention because of a five-year long campaign of non-violent resistance to Israel’s attempt to build a stretch of its Apartheid Wall through the village.
In December 2009, the Israeli military carried out a night time raid on Bil'in during which they abducted Abdallah from his home. They proceeded to charge him with a number of offences including 'incitement', of ‘organising and participating in demonstrations without a permit’, and of ‘possession of arms’. The 'possession' charge relates to an exhibition which Abdallah organised of bullets and grenades that the Israeli military have used against protestors in Bil’in.
He said: "The treatment of Palestinian political prisoners, both in the manner of their detention, and the abuse and torture, both physical and psychological, that they suffer once in detention, is appalling. It is important that we extend our solidarity with those prisoners and their families and let them know that their cause is not forgotten and will not be forgotten."
He added: "It is also particularly important to highlight to the public at large, here in Ireland and around the world, the plight of these prisoners and the Palestinian people in general, at the hands of the Israeli zionist regime. These prisoners should not be in jail. They have been imprisoned for resisting the illegal occupation and theft of their land and resources, and the human rights abuses and atrocities that come with that brutal and inhumane occupation. "
He concluded: " We must all intensify our efforts on these prisoners' behalf to ensure that, not only do they secure their freedom from Israeli captivity, but that the Palestinian people as a whole obtain their freedom from Israeli occupation and secure a viable, free and independent Palestine that has been denied them for so long."
For more photos from Saturday's protest click here