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Comments in 2012 and 2011



Prisoners swapped for land

This posting has three articles
1) Huff Post:  Israeli Settlements Get Go-Ahead On Eve Of Palestine Peace Talks;
2) Time: Why the Palestinian Prisoner Release Mattered;
3) CEPR: Palestinian Prisoners in Israel plus
4) Notes and links on statistics on prisoners, current hunger strikers and on prisoners’ organisations;

West Bank protests about the imprisonment of their men, October 2011. Photo from a collection (uncredited) posted by Occupied Palestine.

Israeli Settlements Get Go-Ahead On Eve Of Palestine Peace Talks

By Karin Laub and Mohammed Daragameh, AP/ Huffington Post
August 11, 2013

JERUSALEM — Israel approved building nearly 1,200 more settlement homes Sunday and agreed to release 26 long-held Palestinian security prisoners – highlighting an apparent settlements-for-prisoners trade-off that got both sides back to peace talks after a five-year freeze.

Yet concerns were mounting, especially among Palestinians, that the price is too steep. Sunday’s announcement was Israel’s third in a week on promoting Jewish settlements on war-won lands the Palestinians want for a state. It fueled Palestinian fears of a new Israeli construction spurt under the cover of U.S.-sponsored negotiations.

In Israel, the most vocal protests came from relatives of those killed in attacks carried out by Palestinians slated for release.

Bereaved relatives held up large photos of their loved ones during a Supreme Court hearing on an appeal against the upcoming release. “Why are we releasing butchers now? What for?” asked Gila Molcho, whose brother, lawyer Ian Feinberg, was stabbed to death by Palestinians who broke into a European aid office in Gaza City in 1993.

Israelis and Palestinians are to launch talks on Wednesday in Jerusalem, following a preparatory round two weeks ago in Washington. The U.S. envisions an agreement within nine months on the terms of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, including drawing a border, agreeing on security arrangements and deciding the fate of Palestinian refugees.

The Palestinians want a state to include the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war. However, they are willing to swap some West Bank land for Israeli territory to allow Israel to annex some of the largest Jewish settlements. In all, Israel has built dozens of settlements since 1967 that are now home to some 560,000 Israelis.

The diplomatic paralysis of the last five years was largely due to disputes over the settlements, deemed illegal by most of the international community.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas long insisted he will only resume talks if Israel freezes construction. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected a freeze. Abbas, under pressure from Kerry, eventually dropped it as a condition for talks.

In exchange, Kerry won Israeli agreement that it will release 104 Palestinian prisoners serving long sentences, many for involvement in killing Israelis.

The prisoners are to be freed in four stages during the negotiations, with the first 26 to be released later this week.

Late Sunday, a group of Cabinet ministers selected the names in the first group, to be published early Monday.

Fourteen prisoners will be released to Gaza and 12 to the West Bank, according to a government statement. Eight of the prisoners had three years left to serve and two would have been released in six months or less, the statement said.

Meanwhile, Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel announced Sunday that he has given final approval for the construction of 1,187 apartments in settlements. Nearly 800 are in east Jerusalem and the rest in the West Bank.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said the construction was approved in areas that Israel expects to retain in any future peace deal. “There is no way it changes the final map of peace,” he said. “It changes nothing.”

The Palestinians responded angrily, but stopped short of walking away from the negotiations.

“It is clear that the Israeli government is deliberately attempting to sabotage U.S. and international efforts to resume negotiations,” Palestinian negotiator Mohammed Shtayyeh said. “Israel continues to use peace negotiations as a smoke screen for more settlement construction.”

Shtayyeh said the Palestinians would complain to the U.S. and Europe. The main U.S. mediator in the talks, Martin Indyk, met Sunday with Abbas at his compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Sunday’s announcement was Israel’s third in a week on pushing settlement plans.

A week ago, Israel added more settlements to its “national priority” list of several hundred communities eligible for special government subsidies, making them attractive to Israelis seeking cheaper housing. Several days later, the government advanced plans for nearly 1,100 more settlement homes.

Some Palestinian commentators have criticized Abbas for returning to negotiations without Israel either agreeing to a settlement freeze or recognizing the 1967 frontier as a baseline for talks.

“The Palestinians need to quit the talks because all they get is more building in the settlement buildings,” said Hani Habib, a Palestinian writer and commentator. He said Abbas shouldn’t have traded Palestinian national aspirations for a prisoner release, an emotional issue for both sides.

Since 1967, tens of thousands of Palestinians have been arrested by Israel, from young stone throwers to those who carried out deadly attacks.

Prisoners are seen in their communities as heroes who made personal sacrifices in the struggle for independence. Many Israelis view those involved in killings as cold-blooded terrorists.

On the Palestinian side, Abbas’ aides have said privately that he was under intense U.S. pressure to return to the table. They said Abbas feared a drop in international aid and the possible collapse of his self-rule government in the West Bank if he defied Washington.

However, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat denied Sunday that the Palestinians had acquiesced to a prisoners-for-settlements trade-off, even implicitly.

The release of 104 Palestinian prisoners announced on July 28 was a precondition for the preliminary talks which began in Washington on July 29, 2013.

Why the Palestinian Prisoner Release Mattered

By Karl Vick, Time magazine
July 29, 2013

The decision Sunday [July 28th] by the Israeli government to release 104 Palestinian prisoners seems like a straightforward victory for the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, giving him the political cover he needs to restart talks this week in Washington with representatives of the government of Benjamin Netanyahu. But the history of the issue on both sides shows how deeply the politics of the prisoners runs in the region and why the release made such a difference. For Israelis, the prisoners recall civilians killed in militant attacks. For Palestinians, divided as they are by geography and politics and challenged by a lack of a unifying leader, the captives play a crucial rallying role in Palestinian struggle for nationhood.

When Abbas’ political opponents in Hamas secured the release of 1,027 Palestinians in exchange for a single Israeli soldier almost two years ago, Abbas was midway between Bogotá and Caracas in full statesman mode. Greeted at Simón Bolívar International Airport by an honor guard holding swords over their heads, Abbas proceeded by motorcade up the coastal range to Caracas, and after his arrival in the penthouse suite at his hotel, I asked him what he made of the news that had, in a twinkling, overwhelmed his wildly popular speech at the U.N. announcing a bid for Palestinian statehood days earlier. “All in all, it is good,” Abbas said matter-of-factly, as a South American rainstorm pelted the plate glass. “To release 1,000 prisoners is good for us, for the families.”

But was it also good for his political opponents in Hamas? Abbas shook off the implication. “Whether they are with us or against us, they are Palestinians,” he said. “Any release of any prisoner is in the interest of every Palestinian.”

That calculation of the power of prisoners anchors the painful decision by the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday to release another group of them — this time to Abbas — as a necessary prelude to the resumption of peace negotiations. Only when the vote was recorded did Abbas’ negotiators board a flight to Washington, where they will sit down with Netanyahu’s representatives Monday night.

The release was a near thing, supported by only 12 of the 21 ministers in Netanyahu’s Cabinet. The Prime Minister called it a necessary step “to see whether we face a Palestinian side that wants, as we do, a genuine end to the conflict between us.” According to one poll, 85% of Israeli Jews opposed the release, and Finance Minister Yair Lapid of the centrist Yesh Atid party called the prisoners: “A disgusting group who deserve to disappear in prison all their lives.”

On the Palestinian side, the return of any prisoner — even a routine release — is cause for public celebration. Horns honk, cars careen through the streets trailing streamers. It’s like a wedding. The celebration will be particularly enthusiastic in coming days, as the first of the 104 are expected to appear on the streets of the West Bank during the holiday that marks the close of Ramadan, the month of sacrifice and fasting currently being observed by devout Muslims. If all goes according to plan, more will be set free at regular intervals, giving Abbas an accomplishment to point to in the months ahead whether the talks make lasting progress or not.

“We take care of all the prisoners, from all the factions,” says Ziad Abu Ein, the Palestinian Authority’s Deputy Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs. “Because the prisoners are all against the occupation,” he says. “They are not against Fatah or Hamas.”

Time in an Israeli prison is viewed as a rite of passage for many Palestinian males. The monitoring organization, Military Court Watch, says that 750,000 residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip have spent time in detention. Israeli soldiers, sometimes operating on tips from informants or video images of stone throwing at street demonstrations (where a helmeted soldier with a video camera sometimes stands on the periphery of the action, panning the Palestinian side), often make arrests in the middle of the night.

The experience can be searing, especially for teens and preteens. Military Court Watch says that of the approximately 4,000 Palestinians currently in custody, 193 are children. Israelis recently arrested a 5-year-old boy in Hebron. The maze of military jurisprudence they encounter is described by an Australian journalist in a lengthy magazine piece and by Israeli lawyers in the film The Law in These Parts. Upon their release, the bravado kids often display in public is just that, says Salwa Duaibis, of the Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling, who is based in Ramallah. Mothers report a different reality at home: nightmares and a return to bed-wetting.

Thereafter, time in Israeli prison becomes a credential. In the West Bank city of Hebron, the last mayor, ill at ease with the city’s reputation for militancy, tried for a time to discourage young job applicants from including prison time in their résumés — a customary practice. At al-Quds University in the town of Abu Dis, just beyond the separation barrier bisecting Jerusalem, a museum dedicated to prisoners has its own modern building, dramatic lighting and tastefully mounted exhibitions, including a collection of letters smuggled out of custody by being folded up smaller than the size of a fingernail.

“Netanyahu cannot affect how much the Palestinian people feel for their prisoners,” says Yousef Mkhemer, who heads the Committee for the Steadfast, an East Jerusalem group that fights the continuing expansion of Jewish neighborhoods across the 1967 Green Line. “Because we cannot affect other things, [we want leaders to] just bring us back our soldiers from this war.”

For Israelis, the prisoners represent a violent history. In West Jerusalem, scores of Jewish Israelis gathered outside Netanyahu’s official residence to protest the release by holding up photos of those killed by the actions of the prisoners: a teacher and three sons burned to death in a fire-bombed bus in 1988; a pair of teenagers found bound and stabbed in a ravine outside Jerusalem in 1990; two university students murdered while hiking near Bethlehem in 1984.

In East Jerusalem, Firas Tarik Issawi explains the dynamic on the Palestinian side. “These are our children,” he says. “They’re basically representing the Palestinian struggle, and as long as they’re in prison, it clearly states there’s still a struggle.” Issawi spent three years in an Israeli prison in the 1990s. His brother Samer was among the 1,000 released in exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, but became a cause célèbre when he was rearrested in July 2012 for violating the terms of his release by venturing into the West Bank. In protest, Samer went on a hunger strike, wasting away to the point where Israeli officials feared he would die in custody — an event that both sides realized could lead to a mass uprising. He won a promise of early release.

“If any of these prisoners die, we can’t control the Palestinian street,” says Abu Ein, the Palestinian Authority Deputy Minister. Adds Nasser Qouss, a Palestinian activist: “You can’t control the people today like you could in the past. In the past there were different organizations, Tanzim [the Fatah youth wing that also functioned as a militia], more people around. Now no one has any trust in any of them.”

Polls show Palestinians are pleased with neither Hamas nor Fatah; in the absence of an alternative, the two factions’ popularity rises and falls based on events. The prisoners released two years ago to Hamas in exchange for Shalit brought Hamas a surge of popularity even on the West Bank, something Abbas encountered when he returned from his foreign travels. Even in Ramallah, stronghold of his secular Fatah faction, there was displayed a sea of green flags — the Hamas color. “Why not?” Abbas told me tartly a few days later, no longer in statesman mode after a series of meetings with irate Fatah officials. “They are celebrating a very big victory — granted by our neighbor.”

He meant Israel, which had rewarded a militant group at the expense of the moderate Palestinian Authority President whose security forces keep the West Bank so quiet that, in the year that would follow, not a single Israeli would be killed there, for the first time since 1973. Abbas complained that in the wake of Shalit’s release by Hamas, Netanyahu owed him a prisoner release as well — one promised by Netanyahu’s predecessor, he acknowledged, but owed nonetheless. The prisoners on his mind were the very ones Netanyahu’s cabinet voted to release on Monday, two years later and by the narrowest margin.

When the decision finally came, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat pointed out that the same group actually had been promised freedom under the terms of an agreement Israel signed with the Palestinians at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheik in 1999. “We welcome this decision 14 years later,” Erekat said dryly, and left for the airport.

Karl Vick has been TIME’s Jerusalem bureau chief since 2010, covering Israel,the Palestine territories and nearby sovereignties. Karl Vick @karl_vick

Palestinian Prisoners in Israel

Report by Council for European Palestinian Relations (CEPR)

The Bottom Line
Since 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, more than 650,000 Palestinians have been detained by Israel. This represents approximately 20% of the total population in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), and 40% of all males. Despite prohibition by international law, Israel detains Palestinians in prisons throughout Israel, far from their families, who almost never obtain the necessary permits to leave the Occupied Palestinian Territories to visit them.

No One is Protected
There are an estimated 6,800 Palestinian prisoners being held in Israel, of which 10 are members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). The elected PLC members were victims of a mass arrest targeting legislators and officials on June 29, 2006, in the wake of the election that brought Hamas to power and the capture of Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit. Initially, 40 of the PLC members were charged. Most of the indictments were for “membership,” “activity” and “holding a position” in an “unauthorised association.” Meanwhile, the kidnapping and imprisonment of elected officials continues. For example, in December of 2010, Israeli soldiers kidnapped Hebron-area legislator Sheikh Khalil Nayef Rajoub – a PLC member who had been imprisoned in 2006 and had just been released five months earlier — after breaking into his home and searching it.

Of particular concern are the number of Palestinian minors in Israeli jails – 209 as of January 2011, 29 under the age of 16. In March 2011, the Palestinian Ministry of Detainee Affairs published a new report documenting the torture of children as young as seven in Israeli prisons. Between January and March of 2011, Israeli soldiers abducted 150 children and all of them were interrogated during the course of their imprisonment M_AW00_6– with many subjected to hitting, psychological abuse and other violence or threat of violence without a parent or adult representative present.

Children are often taken suddenly from their homes, often in the middle of the night, with soldiers surrounding the house and then raiding it. Soldiers usually do not have a warrant for arrest or searches. For example, in July of 2010, an unusually heavy number of Israeli soldiers (in 12 jeeps) entered the outskirts of the village to arrest a local youth, 17 year old Ahmad Abed Al-Fatah Burnat, without giving any reason. Ahmad was taken by jeep to Ofer military prison located outside Ramallah. Prisoners in Ofer, especially young boys, are kept in harsh conditions with the intention of pressuring them to give information about other Palestinians. Many are denied food and water for extended periods of time and exposed to extreme cold or heat.

Inhumane treatment of children is a violation of UN rules for the protection of juveniles and the treatment of prisoners in general, of which Israel is a signatory.

At the other end of the spectrum are older prisoners, some of whom have served terms of unprecedented lengths. Palestinian Nael Barghouthi, for example, is the world’s record-holder. The 54-year-old Barghouthi, originally from Ramallah, has been in custody for more than 33 years, after being detained on 4 April 1978 at the age of 21 for a suspected bombing. He has been in prison 12 years longer than he was free, and continues to be denied visits by his sister.

Getting Arrested: A game of Russian Roulette
The arrest and detention of Palestinians living within the OPT is governed by a wide-ranging set of military regulations that cover every aspect of Palestinian civilian life. There are now more than 1,500 military regulations governing the West Bank and more than 1,400 for the Gaza Strip. The Israeli commander of the region issues military orders, which often remain unknown and become apparent only when they are implemented. For example, carrying or placing a Palestinian flag is a crime in itself. Removing the rubbish put in the middle of a road by Israeli soldiers after they have left is another crime. Firing in the air during a wedding, as is the tradition, constitutes a danger to Israel’s national security, even if it occurs in the autonomous territories (area A). Pouring coffee for a member of an association declared illegal by Israel is deemed support for a terrorist organisation.

Israeli border policemen and soldiers arresting two Palestinian men in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, on 22 October 2010.Upon arrest, detainees are usually handcuffed and blindfolded. They are not informed of the reason for their arrest, nor are they told where they will be taken. Physical abuse and humiliation is common. In numerous sworn affidavits, detainees have reported that they were subjected to attempted murder, rape and many other forms of physical abuse. During arrest, detainees and their family members have often been forced to strip in public.

Under Israeli military regulations, Palestinians can be detained for up to 18 days without the Israeli military informing them of the reason for their arrest and without being brought before a judge. The army is also not obliged to inform the detainees’ families of their arrest or the location of their detention.

After or within this period, the person is sent to an interrogation center, placed in administrative detention, or held in custody awaiting charge and trial. Lawyer visits can be prohibited for up to 90 days after the day of arrest for a Palestinian detainee. In contrast, a meeting between an Israeli detainee and his/her attorney can be delayed for a total of only 48 hours (for “regular” violations) to 21 days (for “security” violations). The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) and the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club issued a report in December 2010 that found that between 70% and 90% of the detainees interviewed in the years 2005 to 2007 were not allowed to meet a lawyer able to provide advice and assistance prior to signing a confession.

What follows is either trial and judgment against the detainee or, more frequently, his/her transfer to administrative detention.

In the case of administrative detention, detainees face charges based on secret evidence. Theoretically, administrative detention can be extended indefinitely. Detainees do not know when they will be released or why they are being detained. Some Palestinian detainees have spent up to eight years in prison under administrative detention. (Compare that to an Israeli citizen, who can be held without indictment for an initial period of 15 days, which can be extended for only another 15 days.)

Palestinians are tried in Israeli military courts. These military tribunals are presided over by a panel of three judges appointed by the military, two of whom often do not have any legal training or background. These tribunals rarely comply with international standards for fair trials.

The maximum allowable civilian sentences are considerably less severe than those allowable in the military tribunals, a major reason for the significant differential in sentences passed upon Israelis and Palestinians. For example, a Palestinian convicted of manslaughter by a military tribunal is subject to a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, while an Israeli convicted of manslaughter in a civilian court faces a maximum of 20 years. Likewise, under the Israeli penal code, prisoners may be released after serving two-thirds of their sentence. The military orders under which Palestinians are judged do not allow for early release for any reason.
Into the “Gulag”

The fourth Geneva Convention forbids the transfer of detainees outside the OPT. Article 76 states that “all protected persons accused of an offense must be detained within the occupied country and if they are sentenced, they have to serve the sentence within it.” However, there are only two military detention centers and one military detention camp located within the OPT.

All of these detention centres are extremely overcrowded. Detainees sleep on wooden planks covered by thin mattresses. Electricity is sparsely provided and all movement is prohibited after sundown. Although Israel’s own prison regulations require inmates to receive sufficient food to remain healthy, Israel has recently taken to requiring detainees to obtain more than half of their food from families or the prison canteen. The food provided to Palestinian detainees is insufficient in both quantity and quality. Between March and May 2002, for example, inmates in military detention camps were provided with frozen food that they were only able to defrost by sunlight. There are no special dietary considerations made for detainees who suffer chronic illnesses such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

Hygiene among the prisons is poor as well. Those injured during their arrest often are forced to remain in blood-soiled clothing for several months; individuals who were detained in their night clothes or underwear also do not receive a change of clothing. Soap is rationed by the prison administration, and other personal hygiene items are offered infrequently and are often unsanitary. Hot water is seldom available. For example, each section of 120 detainees at the Ketziot Military Detention Camp receives one bar of soap each day, and none on Friday and Saturday. Garbage is removed irregularly, and the sewage system is in extreme disrepair.

As a result, a large number of detainees are in poor health. Prison clinics have become renowned for offering only aspirin for all health treatments and physicians within the clinics are all soldiers. Health examinations are conducted through a fence, and any necessary surgery or transfer to hospital for additional medical treatment is usually postponed for long periods of time. Demands made by Israeli organisations to provide health care to detainees have consistently been refused, in addition to petitions made by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

According to a February 2010 Middle East Monitor fact sheet, there are approximately 1,000 Palestinian prisoners who suffer from chronic ailments, such as cancer, kidney failure, heart disease and diabetes, hypertension, anemia, acute inflammation in the back and lungs, and joint and skin problems. The number of affected inmates continues to rise as a result of medical negligence. Palestinian human rights reports have repeatedly accused the Israeli authorities of adopting a policy of deliberate neglect, leaving prisoners to face a slow death.

The Use of Torture during Interrogation and Detention
The Israeli High Court of Justice ruled on 6 September 1999 that interrogation methods described as “torture” may be used in the “necessity of defense” and in situations in which a detainee is considered a “ticking bomb.” Since Israel can legally hold detainees incommunicado for several weeks, interrogators are able to use methods of torture without impunity. Legalised torture includes sleep deprivation and shackling for extended periods of time.

According to 2008 research by Abdun-Nasser Farawn, a former prisoner and expert in prisoner affairs, 95% of Palestinians who had been imprisoned in Israel had been beaten; 89% were deprived of sleep for long times; 82% were forced to stand in difficult positions for long periods; 55% were subjected to extreme hot and cold temperatures; and 50% had pressure applied to their testicles. Furthermore, Farawna said that since 1967, 70 prisoners had died in Israeli custody as a result of torture.

A Palestinian detainee can be interrogated for a total period of 180 days, during which he or she can also be denied lawyer visits for a period of 60 days. Confessions extracted through torture are admissible in court. After the 180-day period, charges must be brought against the detainee, or he/she must be released.

If a complaint is lodged, investigations are confidential and led by a security agent under the authority of the State Attorney. No agent has been charged since the responsibility for investigations was transferred to the Ministry of Justice in 1994.

Disconnected from the outside world
Since June 2006, following the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, the Israeli security authorities have imposed harsh constraints on family visits to prisoners, particularly those from the Gaza Strip. These restrictions culminated in a decision by the Israeli army in June 2007 to place a total ban on visits by the families of prisoners from Gaza.

The majority of prisons throughout the world ensure the basic right of prisoners to make phone calls to their families and lawyers. In Israel, a common criminal has the right to make such phone calls; however, Palestinian or Arab “security prisoners” are deprived of this right. Even in humanitarian situations such as bereavement, prisoners are denied the right to pay their respects by phone.

Notes and Links
Fact sheet

from Military Court Watch

750,000 – 800,000 Palestinian men, women and children have been prosecuted in Israeli military courts since 1967.
Children as young as 12 years can be prosecuted in the military courts.

500-700 children are prosecuted in the military courts each year.

Children are most commonly prosecuted for stone throwing.

The majority of children are detained at night and report physical and psychological abuse during arrest, transfer and interrogation.

Over 99% of cases in the military courts end in conviction.

Over 55% of Palestinian child detainees are held in prisons in Israel in breach of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

1. Under Israeli military law army commanders have full executive, legislative and judicial authority over 2.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank. Palestinians have no say in how this authority is exercised.2. Military courts used to prosecute civilians are permitted under international law but only on a temporary basis. Israeli military courts used to prosecute Palestinians from the West Bank have now been operating since 1967.

An Israeli child has the right to have a parent present when questioned by the police, whereas a Palestinian child questioned under Israeli military law has no such right.

3. Since 1967, over 1,700 military orders have been issued but few have been translated into Arabic, as is required under the Fourth Geneva Convention. In theory, these laws have no legal effect until translated.

4. Dual Israeli legal systems operate in the West Bank. Palestinians are prosecuted in military courts, whereas Israelis settlers are prosecuted in civilian courts, with far greater rights and protections.

5. An Israeli child has the right to have a parent present when questioned by the police, whereas a Palestinian child questioned under Israeli military law has no such right.

6. An Israeli child cannot be given a custodial sentence until reaching the age of 14 under civilian law, whereas a Palestinian child can be sent to prison at the age of 12 under military law.

[There are extensive statistics available at this website, Military Court Watch: Monitoring the treatment of children in Israeli military detention

Statistics on Palestinians in the custody of the Israeli security forces

Compiled by B’Tselem
Updated: 25 Jul 2013

At the end of June 2013, some 4,827 Palestinian security detainees and prisoners were held in Israeli prisons, 409 of them from the Gaza Strip. An additional 1,267 Palestinians were held in Israel Prison Service facilities for being in Israel illegally, 24 of them from the Gaza Strip. The IPS considers these Palestinians – both detainees and prisoners – criminal offenders. A few dozen other Palestinians (we do not have precise figures) are held in IDF facilities for short periods of time. The following data were provided by the military and by the IPS.

June 2013, Held by IPS, 4,827 persons of whom 3,308 serving a sentence, 137 in administrative detention. The remaining 1,382 are detained under, or awaiting, some other legal procedure.

[ For the rest of the statistics on Palestinians in Israeli detention, click on the headline above.]

Statistics on Palestinian minors in the custody of the Israeli security forces

Compiled by B’Tselem
Updated: 25 Jul 2013

At the end of June 2013, approximately 193 Palestinian minors were held in Israeli prisons as security detainees and prisoners. Another 20 Palestinian minors were held in Israel Prison Service facilities for being in Israel illegally. The IPS considers these minors – both detainees and prisoners – criminal offenders. The following figures were provided by the Israeli military and the IPS.

[For the detailed figures, click on the headline above]

14 Palestinian prisoners now on hunger strike as Tallahma brothers join hunger strikers

August 2013

Two Palestinian brothers held in Israeli prisons have joined the prisoners on hunger strike, raising the number of Palestinian political prisoners on hunger strike to 14, Addameer reported on August 4.

Omar Tallahma, 22, and Mahmoud Tallahma, 19, have launched an open-ended hunger strike in protest of the abuse of their interrogators and against their continued arrest, demanding their freedom. The Tallahma brothers are from Dura in al-Khalil district.

Omar was arrested on June 30, 2013, and Mahmoud on July 10.

Addameer also provided the following update on the ongoing conditions of Palestinian hunger strikers:

Ramallah, 31 July 2013 – Despite the mounting pressure on the hunger strikers and the Israel Prison Service (IPS) attempts to isolate them, Addameer lawyers were able to gain access to two of the twelve prisoners who have reported that all of the hunger strikers detained in Ramleh clinic have stopped taking vitamin supplements and are threatening to boycott water if their demands are not met. They are currently also refusing medical examinations.

This most recent development is in light of the harsh conditions they are subjected to in the prison clinic, including denial of medical treatment, lack of humane treatment and isolation in dirty cells.

It should be emphasized that Addameer and other human rights organizations are consistently being denied access to the hunger striking prisoners, both from denied applications and by indirect means, such as transferring the prisoner to another location on the date of an approved visit. This week, Addameer had five approved visits to hunger strikers but was ultimately only allowed access to Ayman al-Tabeesh and Husam Matar. The other prisoners were transferred without notice on the day of Addameer’s visit, thereby denying them their right to legal counsel and further isolating them from the outside world.

Ayman al-Tabeesh, who has been on hunger strike for 70 days in protest of his administrative detention, is currently being held in desolate conditions in Ramleh clinic in a ward for infectious diseases. For over five weeks, he has been isolated in a soundproof 2×2 windowless cell with a mattress on the floor. According to Ayman, fellow hunger strikers Adel Hareebat, Mohammad al-Tabeesh, Mohammad Rimawi, Husam Matar and Abdul Majeed Khdeirat were also held in similar conditions before their recent transfer. Ayman also confirmed that three of the Jordanian prisoners are held in another ward of the prison clinic, which houses prisoners with mental disorders.

The prisoners are subjected to increased pressure and threats by the IPS to end their hunger strikes. They have reported that they are continuously transferred to different cells, subjected to night inspections, not allowed clothing, sheets, family visits and any contact with others except for a one hour recreation period in the yard. Those who are on hunger strike in protest of administrative detention have been promised verbally that they will not receive a renewal order, but the IPS refuses to document the agreement in writing.

Husam Matar, who has been on hunger strike for 61 days was held briefly with Mohammad Rimawi before his transfer to an unknown location last week. Husam reported that Mohammad’s health is critical and his life is in danger. He is currently taking medicine for a lung infection and fungal infection resulting from his hunger strike as well as suffering from mineral deficiency.

Husam is also being held in appalling conditions; he is in a small, dirty cell filled with sewage water. The conditions are so filthy that he is unable to pray during the holy month of Ramadan. Husam suffers from previous medical issues such as neurological problems, and bone issues, and currently suffers from facial hair loss, bodily pains and dehydration as a result of his hunger strike.

The hunger strikers also confirmed to Addameer that Adel Hareebat is in critical condition, his pancreas and liver are failing and he has a lack of basic minerals in his blood, decreased heart rate, blood sugar and blood pressure. Addameer was denied visitation rights for Adel despite his dangerous and life-threatening health condition.

Addameer again calls for immediate intervention from the international community including the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the European Union, to pressure Israel in the strongest manner possible to save the lives of all twelve hunger strikes.

Hunger Strikes Escalate

From Addameer newsletter, January June 2013
March-June 2013

Ayman Hamdan started a hunger strike on 28 April 2013 in protest of his administrative detention. Hamdan was arrested on 21 August 2012, and has been on administrative detention ever since. He was issued his second administrative detention order on 20 February 2013. He is currently detained in Ofer Military Prison in isolation.

Ahmed Hamdan, his brother, started a solidarity strike on 24 June 2013.

Jordanian prisoners: On 2 May 2013, 5 Jordanian prisoners (Mohammad AlRimawi, Hamzah Othman, Munir Mare’e, Alaa Hamdan) started a hunger strike to draw attention to their case and demand family visits, which they are currently being denied. There are currently over 30 Jordanians languishing in Israeli prisons.

Abdallah Barghouhi [also Barghouti], who is serving 67 life sentences, started a hunger strike on 2 May 2013 in Gilboa Prison. He is on strike with the Jordanian prisoners, as well as to protest the denial of visits from his family members in Jordan. Barghouthi was swiftly moved to isolation in Ramoun prison upon announcing his hunger strike and is now held in Ramleh Prison Hospital due to his deteriorating health condition.

Imad Batran started his hunger strike on 7 May 2013 in protest of his administrative detention. He has been held on an administrative detention order for 19 months. Imad Batran was in isolation in Ofer Prison before being transferred to Ramleh Prison Hospital for health reasons.

Ayman Tabbisheh started a hunger strike on 23 May 2013 in protest of his administrative detention. He is currently being held in isolation in Ofer Prison and is only drinking water.

Adel Salameh Hareebat started a hunger strike on 23 May 2013 in protest of his administrative detention. He was arrested in November 2012 and has been on administrative detention since his arrest. He is held in isolation in Ofer Prison.

Ghassan Aliyan (22 years old from Aida refugee camp) started a hunger strike on 10 June 2013 in protest of his re-arrest after his release in the prisoner exchange.

Iyad Abu Khadeer began his hunger strike in protest of the IPS refusing to release him after his 8 year sentence had expired. Addameer has received this preliminary information from Iyad’s family.

Husam Matir began a hunger strike on 1 June 2013.

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