To commemorate the World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel (WWPPI) this year, the World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit has encouraged and invited expressions of solidarity with Palestinian prisoners unjustly detained in Israeli jails.
Observed from 21 to 27 September, the WWPPI 2014 focuses on the theme “Let my people go!”. Inspired by the biblical precedent of Exodus 9:1, the theme draws attention to the situation of thousands of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails and detention centres, links to on-going military occupation of Palestine and stresses the urgent need for a just peace in the region.
Calling this “a terrible year for both Palestinians and Israelis”, the WCC general secretary affirmed the WCC’s concern over the lack of success in negotiations which, he said, is likely to lead to new settlement expansions in the West Bank and further escalations of violence.
“Although the violence in and around Gaza was terrible, we must not forget that it was preceded by kidnappings, murders and revenge killings, and then followed by a series of Israeli announcements that more land would be confiscated and more settlements built,” Tveit said.
Tveit pointed out that the Palestinian reality must be understood in the context of a 47-year military occupation. He said a majority of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails are political prisoners. “They include many human rights workers, civil society leaders and elected politicians. Some are held for significant periods of time without any trial or the minimum standards of due process under abuses of Israel’s laws allowing for ‘administrative detention’,” he said.
“The WCC raises its voice on behalf of this vulnerable population, calling for each one to receive proper care and due process leading to a just outcome,” he continued.
“We additionally call for all political prisoners—in Israeli prisons and throughout the world—to be released immediately,” Tveit added.