Palestinian officials on Sunday called for a boycott of Israeli military courts after a Palestinian murder convict freed in a 2011 prisoner exchange was rearrested and sent back to prison for life.
Speaking in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Palestinian Prisoners Club head Qadura Fares called on detainees’ families and Palestinian organizations to stop taking part in military trials and to refuse to pay convicts’ fines, which he said amounted to $6 million in 2016.
Palestinians captured by Israeli security forces are generally brought before the army courts, where defense lawyers say they are often not notified of the charges against their clients or allowed to meet them before the trial.
“Palestinian movements and prisoners’ families must choose boycott,” Fares told a press conference.
“One must take the difficult decision of rebellion and boycott” of the courts, Issa Qaraqe, head of the Palestinian Authority’s commission for detainees, added.
He noted that the same military court system on Tuesday sentenced Israeli soldier Elor Azaria to 18 months in prison for manslaughter, after he shot and killed a incapacitated Palestinian attacker wounded in a stabbing attack on IDF soldiers in the West Bank city of Hebron.
The United Nations’ human rights office said on Friday the sentence was an “unacceptable” punishment for “an apparent extra-judicial killing.”
“Such courts must be boycotted,” Qaraqe said on Sunday.
In contrast, he said, was the case of Palestinian Nael Barghouthi, sentenced to life imprisonment by Israel in 1978 for “a series of security offenses, including murder,” according to the IDF.
He was among more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners freed by Israel in 2011 in exchange for the release of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured five years earlier by Palestinian terrorists and held in the Gaza Strip.
“After his release, Barghouti renewed his involvement in terrorist activity, violating his terms of release,” the IDF told AFP on Sunday.
He was rearrested and on Wednesday a military court reinstated his original sentence of life plus 18 years.
According to a report by the Palestinian Authority and the Prisoners Club, 85 of the Palestinians freed in the 2011 swap have since been rearrested by Israel with 65 sent back to prison for life.