Palestinian Legislative Council member Issa Qaraqa' reports that the
Israeli Prison Commission intends to increase the sentences between six
months to one year for 41 Palestinian political prisoners. Their
families are unable to pay the financial penalties imposed upon them by
Israeli courts.

As the former Director of the Palestinian Prisoner Society, Qaraqa' explained that the political prisoners are nearing completion of their sentences and are calling on the Palestinian government and national institutions to help them pay the fines in order to expedite their release.

The fines range between 5,000 and 15,000 shekels, amounts of money that few had at their disposal even before the months of economic blockade that has nearly bankrupt the entire Palestinian economy. Qaraqa' hopes that the Palestinian Ministry of Finance may be able to facilitate a transfer of funds.

Qaraqa' used Khalil Abu Hammad's case to illustrate the gravity of the situation. He is slated to be released from Israeli prison in two weeks time, but before that his family must pay the Israelis 10,000 shekels. “That amount of money is simply not available to the people.”

He explained that the families of political prisoners live in “very harsh realities.” Continuing, Qaraqa' said, “It is not enough that children live without their fathers and parents without their sons, this is a time when children are going hungry.”

 The Israeli government has closed several political prisoner accounts as part of a policy of economic pressure, while families do not have the ability to even send funds to the accounts that remain open for food purchases in the prisons, Qaraqa' said. “More than 1,500 families are deprived of the right to even visit their sons, which necessitates greater involvement on the part of the Red Cross and legal bodies.”

The Ofar Israeli Prison imposed 200,000 shekels worth of fines just last month. “This is additional theft and looting of funds which belong to the Palestinian people and to the Palestinian Authority.”

The PLC member and former Director of the Palestinian Prisoner Society concluded by saying, “By imposing fines, the Israeli administration has reduced its cost for imprisoning Palestinians, using this as the method of running the prison system.”