The Palestinian Authority has asked Israel’s highest court to halt the taking of DNA samples from Palestinian prisoners against their will, a PA minister said on Thursday.
“We petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court yesterday against the humiliating treatment of our prisoners,” prisoner affairs minister Issa Qaraqaa told a news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
He said that at Shita prison in northern Israel, which holds mainly Palestinian security prisoners, inmates were forcibly restrained while samples of hair were taken and their mouths swabbed.
“These actions are illegal and contrary to all international standards, including medical ethics, and violate the privacy of prisoners,” he said. “We have asked the World Health Organization to issue a statement condemning these actions.”
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said a campaign was underway to collect samples from all convicted prisoners in Israeli jails, both Jews and Arabs, regardless of the nature of their offenses.
“In order to expand the database of DNA and forensics at the Israeli national police headquarters, at the moment we’re in the process of taking DNA from prisoners, people who have already been convicted of crimes and who are serving time in jail,” he told AFP.
“It’s a new policy which is being implemented throughout the year 2012. It’s beginning to be implemented now,” he said. “It applies to all people who have been convicted.”
“The process is taking place among all the different prisoners no matter what they’ve been convicted for.”
He said that among those from whom a sample would be taken was Israel’s former president Moshe Katsav, serving a seven-year prison sentence for rape, who has refused to give a sample voluntarily.
Local media said that in such cases, a court order could be sought to force compliance.
Rosenfeld said that a decision in Katsav’s case “has to be made by the commissioner (of police) and high-ranking police officers... but I’m sure that we will take DNA from him.”
He could not immediately confirm or deny the forcible taking of samples from the Shita prisoners.
At Thursday’s news conference, Qaraqaa also said the PA had asked the international community to intervene for the release of Haneh Shalabi, now on the 29th day of a hunger strike in Sharon prison, north of Tel Aviv.
One of more than 1,000 Palestinians freed in exchange for the release last October of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, she was re-arrested on February 16 in Burqin village near the northern West Bank town of Jenin on suspicion she “posed a threat to the area,” the army said at the time.
She has been on a hunger strike ever since.
Her condition “continues to deteriorate, but she is determined to continue the strike,” Qaraqaa said.
“She is now suffering from a falling heart-rate and is not able to properly stand up by herself,” he added.