On Palestine Prisoners’ Day, the PA is silent about its own detainees

Ramona Wadi

Middle East Monitor  /  April 20, 2023

On Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, the Palestinian Authority (PA) stayed silent about its detention and torture of Palestinians in its prisons. The PA makes some prisoners more worthy of mention than others, further exploiting the Palestinian political prisoners and attempting to create rifts within Palestinian society.

“The Israeli judicial system is part of the colonial regime that legitimizes discrimination, torture and persecution of the Palestinian people”, the PA’s Foreign Affairs Ministry’s statement partly read. Currently there are 4,900 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, 1,016 of whom are held in administrative detention. The PA is holding more than 30 Palestinian political prisoners in its jails. The statistical discrepancy is no justification for the PA glossing over its role – after all, the PA’s security services have also contributed to the statistics of Palestinians in Israeli jails. Not to mention the PA’s use of torture to stifle political dissent.

In January 2022, Al-Jazeera reported on the PA’s disruption of celebrations on the release of Palestinian prisoners affiliated to Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, while also confiscating flags of the mentioned political factions, as well as those of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). As resistance among Palestinians grows, it stands to reason that Palestinians will become more vocal in expressing their anger with the PA. No amount of including references to Israeli colonialism in their official statements, as the PA is now doing more regularly, will deter Palestinians from pursuing their liberation. Palestinians have altered the dynamics of resistance and their opposition to the PA is not juxtaposed against other political factions, but on the realities of colonialism and collaboration. Back in 2022, the PA was still thinking in terms of the opposition from Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the PFLP. However, Palestinians no longer consider their struggle as pertaining to a political faction, which means that Palestinians are risking more arrests by the PA’s security services.

Palestinian Prisoners’ Day is a day for remembering the prisoners and their centrality to anti-colonial resistance. The PA has exploited the Palestinian prisoners on countless occasions – collective hunger strikes in Israeli jails provide a highlight for Ramallah due to the brief global coverage that ensues.  But a closer look at the PA’s security services’ collaboration with Israel reveals complicity with colonialism, which renders the PA hypocritical in speaking about Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, or speaking about Palestinian prisoners at all. The PA mirrors Israel’s detention policies in terms of political violence.

On Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, can the PA include the brutality of its security services unleashed against Palestinian detainees when it speaks about Israeli colonialism? Or how arrests by the security services often result in torture sessions? Can the PA point out that, if Palestinian activist and critic, Nizar Banat, hadn’t been murdered by the security services, he would possibly have been in the PA’s incarceration system?  While Israel’s system, as the PA rightly pointed out, serves the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, the PA need to be called out for aiding Israel and legitimizing its colonial expansion, even at the expense of Palestinian political prisoners.

Ramona Wadi is an independent researcher, freelance journalist, book reviewer and blogger; her writing covers a range of themes in relation to Palestine, Chile and Latin America