The European Network to defend the rights of Palestinian prisoners (UFree Network) condemn the Israeli arrests of Palestinian members of parliament in the occupied West Bank. The network also denounce the wide campaign of arrests that targeted Palestinian civilians whom of which are community leaders, academics and students.
Israeli arrest operation started Monday down, 4th Feb. 2013, where a number of three Palestinian parliamentarians (Members of Palestinian Legislative Council – PLC) have been arrested. The arrested MPs are, Ahmed Attoun who is already exiled from Jerusalem to Ramallah, Hatim Kufaisha MP and Muhammad Al Tal MP from Hebron.
Add to this, a number of 18 civilians were arrested -mostly academics and students- across the West Bank cities.
In a statement dispatched to the Press, UFree asserted that this operation is a systematic policy practiced by Israel. It suggested that this is an attempt to target Palestinian national reconciliation which is due in the near future.
As for his part, Chairman of UFree Moahmmad Hamdan, stated that the Israeli operation might escalate as the Palestinian reconciliation efforts are intensified between the different parties.
“Arresting Members of parliament and taking them as hostages is a war crime as it is constituted in the third and fourth articles of Geneva conventions” stated Hamdan
According to article 34 of the fourth Geneva Convention, “taking hostages” of other countries’ civilians and placing them under the authority of an occupying state is prohibited. Likewise, arresting those MPs from the West Bank then transferring to Israeli jails (occupying power) is illegal and contradicts international law. Therefore, UFree Network calls on International Human Rights Organisations to intervene immediately and released kidnapped MPs and civilians.
In the meantime, UFree Network is planning to launch a campaign to mobilise and pressure European Parliament and MPs to intervene and oblige Israel to release them. According to UFree statements, Israel has close economic and political ties with European Union which gives the former a lot of advantages. The network called on EU to halt any upgrade in economic relations with Israel as it will be a reward instead of sanctions.
Internationally, Israel continues to break international law and the generally accepted rules of laid down in the UN Charter as clearfield in Article 2.4 of the UN Charter states: “All [UN] Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”