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European fact-finding mission to investigate Israeli prison conditions

March 8, 2014 1:09 P.M. (Updated: March 14, 2014 6:05 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- A European fact-finding mission is scheduled to visit Palestine and Israel in March to investigate the humanitarian conditions of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody, an official said Saturday.

Minister of Prisoners' Affairs Issa Qaraqe said in a statement that a delegation would visit the region on March 19 and would spend three days visiting Israeli interrogation and detention centers, in addition to major prisons such as Ramla and HaSharon.

The group will also meet with politicians and representatives of human rights groups both in Israel and in the West Bank, Qaraqe said.

According to the statement, the mission will meet with Qaraqe, Chief PLO Negotiator Saeb Erekat, PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi, in addition to representatives of UNICEF, the Red Cross, and the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem.

Israel's minister of foreign affairs has said Israel would not allow the mission to enter the prisons themselves, the statement said.

"With this, Israel is defying the international community and the European Union," Qaraqe said. "It is an attempt to conceal war crimes and crimes against humanity that are being practiced against Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails."

The statement said the mission was established by the European Parliament after Palestinian prisoner Arafat Jaradat died during interrogation in an Israeli detention center in 2013.

5,200 Palestinians were being held in Israeli jails as of Oct. 2013, according to the Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs. Another 1,280 are in Israeli prisons for being inside Israel without permits.
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