Palestinian Minister of Detainees, Issa Qaraqe’, stated that all preparations to present the file of the Palestinian detainees, held by Israel, to the International Court at The Hague, were concluded and the case will be presented to the court soon.Talking to Palestine Radio on Wednesday, Qaraqe’ stated that the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank is heading to the International Court in an attempt to put an end to the plight of the detainees and the illegal treatment they face in Israeli prisons.

As for the conditions the detainees face in Israeli detention centers and prisons, the minister stated that the Israeli Prison Administration is escalating its attacks and violations, and is imposing collective punishment, in addition to depriving the detainees from their basic, internationally guaranteed rights.

As for the second phase of the prisoner-swap deal, Qaraqe’ stated that the detainees are demanding Israel release all old, ailing and any female detainees.

The detainees recently sent a letter to the Palestinian Authority, expressing concern regarding the possibility that Israel will exclude long-term detainees from the second phase of the swap-deal.

The first phase of the prisoner-swap deal, which was implemented in October, secured the release of 477 Palestinian detainees in exchange for the release of Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who was captured by the resistance in Gaza in mid June 2006.

The names of the detainees were chosen by the resistance, and Israel insisted on excluding dozens of detainees from the list. The second phase, that is yet to be implemented, would secure the release of 550 detainees, named and selected by Israel.

In their letter to the P.A., the detainees stated that there are dozens of seriously ill detainees who were excluded from the first phase of the deal; most of them are long-term detainees.

The detainees added that there are 57 detainees who are serving terms that are 20 years or more, while 127 Palestinian detainees have been in prison since before the Oslo Peace Agreement was signed between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization in 1993. There are nine female detainees who were still imprisoned by Israel.

By September of this year, the number of detainees held by Israel reached 7200 detainees; the numbers practically increase on a daily basis due to Israel’s daily arrests carried out in the West Bank.

On Wednesday, Israeli soldiers arrested 17 Palestinians, members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in several cities and towns in the West Bank.