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The New Arab Staff

Palestinian prisoners NGO to close most branches due to lack of PA funding

Palestinians have held hundreds of protests for the release of prisoners in Israeli jails [Getty]

Date of publication: 26 July, 2020

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The Palestinian Prisoners' Club, an NGO which has led efforts to support prisoners in Israeli jails, is to close most of its branches in the West Bank
A major NGO dedicated to supporting Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails has had to close all but two of its branches due to a lack of financial support from the Palestinian Authority.

The Palestinian Prisoners' Club had ten branches in towns and cities across the West Bank but said that from now on only those in Ramallah and Qalqiliyah would remain open due to the major decrease in funding.

The NGO was founded in 1993, with a membership of approximately 1,600 prisoners held in Israeli jails. It has since worked to raise awareness of the plight of Palestinian prisoners and provide them with assistance and support, gaining great respect in Palestinian society.

However, its main financial contributor was the Palestinian Authority and for the past two years the PA has stopped providing it with an operating budget.

The Palestinian Prisoners' Club said in statement that it previously had to terminate the contracts of its employees over two stages, due to the financial crisis, and put an "emergency plan" in place which would see it reduce its activities.

Read also: Emotional video shows Palestinian prisoner meeting son 'conceived by smuggled sperm'

It added that it had found alternative sources of funding in order to continue its work at a reduced capacity, and mentioned that over the past two years talks with the PA to avoid the current situation had failed to bear any fruit, with promises to provide more funding remaining unfulfilled.

"The Palestinian prisoners issue has faced and continues to face a constant attack from [Israeli] occupation authorities and the US administration and their helpers. These attacks have increased greatly in recent years and have affected prisoners' families and the rights groups working for them," the statement said.

In 2018, US President Trump cut off virtually all US aid to the Palestinian Authority due to its refusal to cooperate with his "Deal of the Century" plan which would allow Israel to annex large parts of the West Bank and make a viable Palestinian state impossible.

At the end of May 2020, there were 4,236 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, according to the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem, including 183 children. Many are held in "administrative detention" without charge or trial.

In April this year the UN Human Rights Council and the Red Cross urged Israel to release vulnerable prisoners, saying that they were in danger of contracting coronavirus. However, there was no Israeli response.

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