Palestinian prisoners held by Israel include everyone from hardened militants convicted of suicide bombings and shootings that killed Israeli civilians to activists detained for demonstrating against settlements
The cinematic escape of six prisoners who tunneled out of an Israeli penitentiary earlier this month shone a light on Israel’s mass incarceration of Palestinians, one of the many bitter fruits of the conflict.
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have passed through a military justice system designed for what Israel still portrays as a temporary occupation, but that is now well into its sixth decade and critics say is firmly cemented.
Nearly every Palestinian has a loved one who has been locked up in that system at some point, and imprisonment is widely seen as one of the most painful aspects of life under Israeli rule.
Israel classifies nearly every act of opposition to its military rule as a criminal offense, while many Palestinians see those acts as resistance and those engaged in them as heroes, even if they kill or wound Israelis.
Israel has granted limited autonomy to the Palestinian Authority, which administers cities and towns in the occupied West Bank and is responsible for regular law enforcement. But Israel has overarching authority and the military regularly carries out arrest raids even in PA-run areas. Israel seized the West Bank along with east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 war. The Palestinians seek an independent state in all three.
The Palestinian prisoners held by Israel include everyone from hardened militants convicted of suicide bombings and shootings that killed Israeli civilians to activists detained for demonstrating against settlements and teenagers arrested for throwing stones at Israeli soldiers.
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