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In Opinion

25 March 2013

Thank you for the email to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office about the Palestinian prisoner Samer Issawi.

Officials in the British Consulate General in Jerusalem continue to monitor the case of Samer Issawi and the continued long term hunger strike by him and Ayman Sharawna.  They are in regular contact with the Prisoners Affairs Ministry in the Palestinian Authority.  Both prisoners have been transferred to hospital by the Israeli authorities and are under close medical observation.  We have lobbied the Israeli authorities that those on hunger strike receive appropriate medical care and have encouraged all sides to reach a solution that prevents loss of life.

We are concerned about Israel’s extensive use of administrative detention which, according to international law, should be used only when security makes this absolutely necessary rather than as routine practice, and as a preventive rather than a punitive measure.  We have discussed our concerns with the Israeli authorities on many occasions including at Foreign Minister and National Security Adviser levels. The Attorney General raised this during his visit to Israel last November when he was assured by his Israeli counterpart that the numbers in administrative detention had decreased 90% in the last five years and that administrative detention was only being used in exceptional cases

Finally, we believe that Israel has legal obligations as an Occupying Power with respect to the Occupied Palestinian Territories under applicable international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention.  We have a regular dialogue with the Government of Israel with regard to the implementation of those obligations.