Ramallah: Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have given their jailers a chance to reconsider allowing the prisoners to continue their higher education before widespread protests are organised throughout Israeli jails.

The aim of the protests is to force the Israeli occupation to adhere to the articles of the agreement already signed between Israel and the prisoners’ leadership which grants the prisoners unconditional access to higher education.

The Israeli Higher Court of Justice on Tuesday denied Palestinian prisoners the right to continue their higher education, with the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees’ Affairs strongly condemning the ruling, and urging support from Unesco and international human rights organisations.

The prisoners have appealed to the court to impose an earlier decision that allows them free educational access, but the court claimed that the prisoners’ right to education is not secured by law.

In an interview with Gulf News, Eisa Qaraqei, the Palestinian Minister of Detainees’ Affairs said that the Israeli court’s ruling is targeting the prisoners for revenge. “The unconditional opportunity of the prisoners to continue their higher education was the key prisoners’ demand during their 28 day mass protest held on April 17th, and Israel bowed to this demand and signed an official agreement with the Prisoner Movement,” he said.

“As usual and once again, Israel did not commit, cheated the prisoners and changed its mind saying no to the education of the prisoners,” said Qaraqei.

“The prisoners’ demand is fair, legitimate and there are no acceptable grounds for Israel to refuse such a demand,” he stressed.

Basic right

“Now Israel has a chance to have second thoughts about the higher education of the prisoners who will never stop protesting since Israel is denying them the basic right of education,” he warned.

Qaraqei said the Palestinian prisoners will enter a confrontation with the Israeli authorities which have been provided with a legal cover in line with the Israeli Higher Court ruling. “Palestinian prisoners will firmly confront the Israeli jailers with creative protesting measures to retrieve their stolen rights,” he said.

Denying the Palestinian prisoners the chance to continue their higher education was an episode in a chain of punishments the Israeli government adopted when the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was captured and held in Gaza. Once Shalit was released in a deal with Hamas, the Israeli government vowed to freeze all the measures imposed against the prisoners including a right to free education.

A large number of Palestinian prisoners are done with most of the requirements to obtain bachelor’s degrees from the Hebrew University in Israel but they have been suspended for years.

Many other prisoners have been enrolled in Palestinian open universities but the Israeli measures including the seizure of books and stationary provided by the prisoners’ families has made it extremely difficult for the prisoners to go on with their education.

Shadi Younes, a released Palestinian prisoner told Gulf News that it is impossible for any Palestinian prisoner to carry on his education even secretly. “The Israelis seize all books and send prisoners suspected of trying to obtain an education to solitary confinements during the examination periods,” he said.

Israeli Prison Service usually transfers the prisoners from one prison to the other to ensure those prisoners do not have any access to education whatsoever, he said.

“Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are fully determined to continue their education and ready to sacrifice whatever to achieve this end,” he said.