A Guardian article (“Lawyer criticises secretive Israeli case against Gaza aid worker”, Nov. 28), by their Jerusalem correspondent Oliver Holmes, included the following claim:
More than 4,700 Palestinian security detainees and political prisoners are held by Israel, some of them under administrative detention, which allows authorities to detain people without charge or trial.
However, there are no Palestinian “political prisoners” (a term widely understood as referring to people “imprisoned for their political beliefs”) in Israeli prisons. And, in fact, the source cited in that sentence, the anti-Israel NGO B’tselem, doesn’t cite any “political prisoners” in their list of prisoners.
Amnesty International, in their 2017/18 annual report, does list one Palestinian, Ahmed Qatamesh, as a “prisoner of conscience”, but this doesn’t appear to be true, as reports at the time noted that he was arrested because he was a “senior member” of the terror group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Note that, following a complaint by UK Media Watch, the Guardian amended a 2013 article that initially referred to more than 100 pre-Oslo Palestinian prisoners, all of whom were convicted of violent offenses, as “political prisoners”. The Guardian editors’ note clarified that it is only PA authorities who – as is often the case – were characterising them as “political prisoners”.
Their latest use of the term “political prisoners” represents another example of the Guardian blindly accepting Palestinian propaganda as fact, and we’ve complained to the readers’ editor asking that they amend the sentence in question.