The International Committee of the Red Cross has continued to conduct its activities in Israeli places of detention during the current hunger strike by Palestinian security detainees. In particular, over the last 10 days the organization has begun a round of visits to all prisons housing detainees on strike, while maintaining close contact with their families and groups representing them.
The ICRC plans to strengthen its team of medical doctors visiting places of detention, with a view to stepping up its monitoring of health conditions and access to medical care there. During the visits, the doctors will stress the possible health consequences of the strike and urge the authorities not to subject detainees to force-feeding or any other form of duress.
Palestinians detained by Israel are protected under the Fourth Geneva Convention, which entitles them, among other things, to respect for their persons, their honour, their family rights, their religious convictions and practices, and their manners and customs.
As a strictly humanitarian and neutral organization, the ICRC will not play any role in negotiations between the detainees and the prison authorities. It will, however, continue to present the Israeli authorities with its findings on a strictly bilateral and confidential basis and stress any recommendations it has for improvements to be made in the treatment and conditions of detainees.
Since January 2004, the ICRC has conducted over 180 visits to Israeli military camps, provisional detention centres, civilian prisons and police stations. In conformity with the mandate conferred on it by the Fourth Geneva Convention, the ICRC intends to continue its visits to Israeli places of detention throughout the strike and will monitor the situation closely, in regard both to the general prison population and to the hunger strikers.