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Palestinian prisoners

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Palestinian Authority employees wait to withdraw cash from an ATM outside a Bank of Palestine branch in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, on April 2, 2020. (Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA Images)

The latest Israeli military order allows forces to seize funds in Palestinian banks. The political motivation behind this “legal” hogwash is the Israeli desire to punish the Palestinian leadership for refusing to stop making welfare payments to those Palestinians who were, or continue to be, detained in Israeli prisons—political prisoners,—in addition to welfare payments made to families of martyrs. It is important to note that nearly one million Palestinians have gone through the Israeli prison system since the start of Israeli military occupation in 1967.

Palestinians take part in a Palestinian Prisoners' Day protest in the West Bank city of Ramallah

Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli jails won a small but significant victory April 15 when the Israeli Prison Service agreed to several key demands voiced by 400 prisoners who had been on an open-ended hunger strike. The hunger strikers’ apparent victory came just two days before Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, an observation held annually on April 17 to draw attention to the plight of the thousands of political prisoners held—many for very long terms and many without any fixed term at all—in Israel’s broad network of military prisons.

Saturday, after 41 days, the Palestinian prisoner hunger strike came to what seemed to be an end. Issa Qaraqe, director of the Palestinian Prisoners Affairs Commission, declared “80 percent of the demands” of the prisoners were achieved, calling it “an important achievement to build on in the future on the basis of the protection of the prisoners’ rights and dignity.” Israeli Public Security and Hasbara (propaganda) Minister Gilad Erdan countered claims that certain demands were met, saying that “there is absolutely no pledge to grant” any of the other prisoner demands, and said it “appears that this strike failed”. Jonathan Ofir says, “This should be a major source of concern, since it is the Israelis who are the jailer. If they are claiming this essentially did not happen, then there could be a real chance that they would ignore the reported agreements.”