This essay addresses the legal status of Palestinian political prisoners under international humanitarian and human rights law. At the heart of this issue lies the fundamental question of Israel's right to arrest hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, put them on trial before arbitrary military courts, and treat them as criminals in its capacity as the occupying power given the internationally-recognized right of Palestinians to resist occupation and pursue self-determination. This question takes on all the more urgency considering the illegal nature of the Israeli occupation1 and given that the laws and rules of war are applicable to Palestinian detainees as their status conforms to the definition of prisoners of war and civilians under occupation pursuant to the Geneva Conventions of 1949.

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