Each year, April 17th marks Palestinian Prisoners' Day, in which the Palestinian population remembers the 11,500 Palestinians currently imprisoned by the Israeli occupying forces. In Bethlehem, the commemoration started a day earlier, with a massive march and rally Wednesday.
The Bethlehem march was organized by the local chapter of the Palestinian Prisoners' Society. Hundreds of marchers took to the streets, carrying photos of loved ones who are in Israeli detention camps, as well as signs and banners. Some of the signs celebrated those who “defend the dignity of our people” and those who have “fought for our national rights without tiring.”
Ibrahim Njarjh, Director of the Office of the Ministry of Prisoners in the province of Bethlehem, said at the rally, "The families of the prisoners and all national figures from the Palestinian people are expressing their deep concern for the outcome of the conditions of prisoners in Israeli jails. There are terrible violations of their human rights set forth by all international covenants."
He continued, "We call upon the International Red Cross to put an end to crimes committed by the occupation authorities against our children prisoners: the attacks and medical neglect, solitary confinement, torture, collective punishment, denial of family visits and education, the humiliation and degrading living conditions which have spread disease."
There are currently 11,500 prisoners being held by Israeli forces in Israeli detention camps in violation of international law. This includes 360 children, 99 women, 352 with long sentences, 81 who have been in prison more than 20 years, 13 who have been there more than 25 years, 2 who have been there more than 30 years. There are also 1200 in administrative detention. Since 1967, 197 Palestinians have died in prison, among them 48 who died of medical negligence.