February 22, 2024

A United Nations office is alarmed over a sharp rise in Israel’s arrests of Palestinians. It wants an investigation into torture allegations. Israel has arrested over 3,000 Palestinians in the West Bank and east Jerusalem since the start of the Gaza war in early October. A UN Human Rights Office statement in the occupied Palestinian territories said a record number were being held without charge or trial. Within two months, six Palestinian men have died in Israeli custody, the highest number in decades. Since the Hamas attack and Israel’s heavy bombardment of Gaza, Palestinians in Israeli prisons reported worsening conditions including overcrowding, limited access to food and water, and restricted visits from family or lawyers. They allege they were subjected to beatings and abuse by detention guards, including threats of rape. The UN Human Rights Office said the rise in arrests, ill-treatment, and humiliation of prisoners raises questions about Israel’s compliance with international law. It called for investigations into deaths in custody and torture allegations. Israel’s Prison Service said all prisoners are detained according to the law and that prisoner deaths were under investigation. As part of a truce deal with Hamas, Israel has released 240 Palestinian women and teenagers from its jails. More than half were detained without charge. During a week-long pause in fighting, Israel arrested over 260 Palestinians in the West Bank, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Society.