Observing Palestinian Prisoners’ Day on 17 April, the World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary expressed solidarity with some 5000 Palestinian men, women and children, languishing in Israeli jails.
Palestinian Prisoners’ Day arises in response to a call from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. In an open letter to the WCC’s member churches issued on Thursday, 17 April, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, the WCC general secretary, said, “As people of faith, we are called to pray for, visit, and tend to the needs of all prisoners, no matter the reason for their detention. For Israel and Palestine, prisoners have taken on even greater significance than in the past.”
“We were disappointed when the government of Israel cancelled the scheduled release of prisoners who have been in Israeli jails even before the Oslo Agreement of 1993,” he said.
Tveit encouraged the WCC member churches to join in calling United Nations member states to insist Israel end arbitrary detentions and torture, and provide medical care to Palestinian detainees. In the letter UN member states were also urged to persuade Israel to abide by the 1955 standard rule of prisoners’ treatment, respect the 4th Geneva Convention and ratify other human right conventions.
In commemoration of the Palestinian Prisoners Day, Tveit invited the churches in the Holy Land to remember Palestinian prisoners through “prayers and acts of solidarity that restore to them their freedom with justice and dignity”.
“The WCC will work and pray for a just and sustainable peace for Palestine and Israel, through the upcoming World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel in September and keep the focus whenever there are obstacles to that peace,” Tveit concluded.