Hamas prisoners: We need concrete moves to free us from prisons

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– The higher leading committee for Hamas prisoners has said that the prisoners in Israeli jails need concrete actions instead of more celebrations and oratorical festivals held in solidarity with them. In a press release on Sunday, the committee stressed the need for tangible moves ending the suffering of prisoners, especially those who are detained administratively and in isolation cells. The committee also called on the Palestinians to rally around their national constants, which the martyrs and the wounded made great sacrifices to protect them. “The message we have been jailed for should not be absent from the minds of our people and its leadership, and it is a message of duty and steadfastness,” the committee underlined. It expressed its hope that “the occasion of the Prisoner Day would be the last for the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails this year.”

(Source / 17.04.2016)

Palestinian Prisoners Day Statement: In Struggle, Towards Liberation

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On 17 April, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network salutes the struggle of 7,000 Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli jails: struggling for not only their own freedom, but for the freedom of the land and people of Palestine. Palestinian prisoners struggle through torture, solitary confinement, abuse, repression, denial of family visits, arbitrary imprisonment and brutal racism on a daily basis. Yet they not only persist and exemplify “samidoun” – those who are steadfast – the Palestinian prisoners are leaders of the Palestinian liberation movement, and of the global struggle for justice and liberation.

Each year, on 17 April, in Palestine and around the world, Palestinians and supporters of justice in Palestine come together to review the situation of Palestinian prisoners and demand their freedom. It is an opportunity to renew our work and our activity to free Palestinian prisoners, and to examine the last year of struggle, inside and outside the prison walls.

Imprisonment has always been a weapon of colonialism in Palestine. From the British colonizers who suppressed Palestinian revolts through mass imprisonment, home demolitions, and execution – and who first imposed the “emergency law” of administrative detention used against Palestinians today – to the Zionist colonizers who for 68 years have imposed a system of occupation, apartheid, criminalization, racism and dispossession upon the Palestinian people, the colonizers of Palestine have imprisoned strugglers, leaders, fighters, and visionaries. Imprisonment targets all sectors of the Palestinian people: workers, strugglers, teachers, journalists, doctors and health workers, farmers, fishers; from Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Occupied Palestine ’48; refugees in the camps inside Palestine and around the world – millions denied their right to return and yet pursued and imprisoned in international jails.

In the past year, as throughout this history of struggle, we have witnessed time and again the resilience, resistance and struggle of Palestinian prisoners. It is not only the case that thousands of Palestinians have been jailed since October 2015 in an attempt to stop the rising intifada in the streets and villages of Palestine; it is also the case that Palestinian prisoners are engaged in daily intifada, daily resistance, behind the prison walls. They are part of the struggle – indeed, leaders in the struggle – confronting occupation, colonialism, settlements, home demolition, land confiscation and extrajudicial executions.

From Palestinian lawyer Muhammad Allan, to Palestinian journalist Mohammed al-Qeeq, to baker and resistor Khader Adnan, to the strugglers of the “Battle of Breaking the Chains” – Nidal Abu Aker, Ghassan Zawahreh, Shadi Ma’ali, Munir Abu Sharar and Badr al-Ruzza – Palestinian prisoners have put their bodies on the line in hunger strikes, demanding not only their own freedom but an end to the system of administrative detention without charge or trial that currently holds approximately 700 Palestinians in Israeli prisons. Today, Sami Janazrah, Fouad Assi, and Adib Mafarjah are on hunger strike against administrative detention.Eyad Fawaghra is refusing food, demanding an end to the denial of family visits. Shukri Khawaja is demanding an end to solitary confinement, joined by up to 88 other Palestinian prisoners expressing their solidarity in daily hunger strikes.

Today, 17 April, thousands of Palestinian prisoners are refusing food in a one-day hunger strike in support of prisoners in Nafha subject to violent attacks by Israeli occupation prison guards and special forces on 14 April. Throughout the prisons of the south, prisoners have joined across political lines in rejection of the violent raids that are a constant of Palestinian prisoner life in Israeli jails.

Statistics: Israeli jails hold approximately 7,000 Palestinian prisoners. These include over 400 children and 70 women prisoners, held in 22 prisons and interrogation centers. There have been 4,800 arrests since October 2015, including 1,400 children and minor teens. Approximately 700 Palestinians are held in administrative detention without charge or trial.

Women Prisoners: The number of women prisoners is now 68, including 17 girls under 18. Imprisoned in Hasharon and Damon prisons, injured women prisoners are being denied access to needed medical services and are instead supported by their fellow prisoners. The longest-serving woman prisoner, Lena Jarbouni, has been imprisoned since 2001. The youngest girl prisoner, Dima al-Wawi, is 12 years old. Khalida Jarrar. Palestinian parliamentarian, leftist and prisoner advocate, serving a 15-month sentence, is also among the women prisoners at Hasharon.

Administrative Detainees: Approximately 700 Palestinians are imprisoned without charge or trial under administrative detention by Israeli military order. Administrative detention orders are issued on the basis of secret evidence hidden from both the detainee and their lawyer. These orders are indefinitely renewable and are often renewed repeatedly over years.

Sick and ill prisoners: Over 1,700 sick prisoners inside Israeli jails suffer from various diseases, worsened by ill treatment, delay and denial of medical care, and dismissal of medical issues. Dozens of Palestinian prisoners suffer from serious diseases, including cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, stomach ulcers and high blood pressure. There are 24 prisoners with cancer in Israeli prisons, and 23 Palestinians permanently confined in the Ramle Prison Clinic, infamous among Palestinian prisoners for its poor treatment. Some of them are unable to move from their hospital beds. Despite severe illness, they are consistently denied medical release or access to private physicians.

Child Prisoners: Over 400 Palestinians under 18 are imprisoned. Many are arrested in traumatic and violent night-time military raids on their homes, and Palestinian child detainees report very high levels of physical and psychological abuse and torture. Six children are held in administrative detention. Several Palestinian children between the ages of 12 and 14 are imprisoned in Israeli jails. Recent reports from Defence for Children International Palestine and Human Rights Watch highlight the abuse of Palestinian children in Israeli detention, interrogation and imprisonment.

Former Prisoners, Re-Arrests and Pursuit: Former prisoners, including over 70 released in the 2011 Wafa al-Ahrar prisoner exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, are pursued for renewed arrest and imprisonment. Under Israeli Military Order 1651, released prisoners in an exchange face the reimposition of their original sentence at any time on the basis of “secret evidence.” As in administrative detention cases, Palestinian prisoners and their lawyers are denied access to this evidence, which can include allegations such as “association” or “support” for a “prohibited organization,” a category which includes all major Palestinian political parties. 47 former prisoners have seen their sentences reimposed under this order. The targeting of former prisoners does not only happen inside Palestine. The pursuit, attempt to extradite, and killing of Omar Nayef Zayed in the Palestinian Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria emphasizes the global nature of this targeting. Rasmea Odeh, Palestinian community leader in the United States, is threatened with imprisonment and deportation on the basis of her imprisonment – and torture – by Israeli forces in the 1960s and 1970s.

Torture is a constant reality of Israeli occupation arrest, detention and interrogation of Palestinians, including beatings, psychological torture, threats and insults, including threats of sexual abuse and violence and threats to family members; forced stress positions and shackling; sleep deprivation; long-term solitary confinement and isolation.

Palestinians are facing ongoing and increasing attacks. The extrajudicial execution of Palestinians under the control of Israeli occupation soldiers – including but not limited to the filmed and photographed executions of Abdelfattah Al Sharif and Hadeel al Hashlamoun – are a new attack on Palestinians that is part and parcel of the same system of terror and repression that carries out mass arrests and violent dawn raids on Palestinian homes. This comes alongside the ongoing imprisonment of the bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli occupation soldiers. Some Palestinian corpses have been held for over 30 years. Today, the Israeli occupation forces continue to withhold 15 bodies of Palestinians. Nearly every week brings news of a new racist and repressive law being considered or enacted by the Israeli occupation: the “Law to Prevent Harm Caused by Hunger Strikers” permitting forced feeding; lengthy sentences for stone throwing; the imprisonment of 12-year-old Palestinians; threats to execute Palestinian prisoners.

The imprisonment of Palestinians is a collective attack on the Palestinian people and their struggle for liberation. These are not individual cases, but part of the comprehensive attempt of a colonial power to erase and suppress the indigenous Palestinian people and their collective struggle. We see this in the criminalization of Palestinian political parties, all declared “prohibited” by military order, and the military courts and trials that convict Palestinians at a rate of over 99% on the basis of these military orders that govern occupied Palestine. We see this in the targeting of Palestinian student organizers and leaders likeAbdullah Ramadan, Asmaa Qadah and Donya Musleh, the ransacking of student blocs’ offices and the attempt to disrupt the vibrant political life of Palestinian students on campuses. We see this in the increased threats of arrests or denial of residence made against Palestinian BDS organizers and activists building the international movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. And we see this, of course, in the imprisonment of Palestinian political leaders like Ahmad Sa’adat, General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine; Marwan Barghouthi, Fateh leader; Khalida Jarrar, Palestinian parliamentarian and prisoners’ advocate; Hassan Yousef, Hamas leader and Palestinian Legislative Council member; and the countless local leaders targeted for administrative detention and military trials.

We see this in the imprisonment of over 18 Palestinian journalists – 43 in the past six months – and the forced closure of Palestinian TV and radio stations, and in the targeting of Palestinian researchers and human rights defenders like Eteraf Rimawi of Bisan Center, and also in the administrative detention of teachers like circus trainer Mohammed Abu Sakha, 24, who combined Palestinian identity with circus performance as he taught numerous Palestinian children.

We also see the targeting and imprisonment of Palestinians and strugglers for Palestine in international courts and prisons. Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, Lebanese Arab communist struggler for Palestine, has been imprisoned in French jails for 32 years, despite being eligible for release for 16 years. Hillary Clinton – today a US presidential candidate – personally intervened to pressure the French state to overturn its own judiciary to keep him imprisoned. The interior minister who agreed to do so, Manuel Valls, today threatens and supports the prosecution of dozens of Palestine solidarity activists across France for calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions against the Israeli state for its ongoing crimes against Palestinians. In the United States, the Holy Land Five are serving lengthy sentences for fundraising for charity for Palestinians among the Palestinian community. Rasmea Odeh, torture survivor and community leader, is facing imprisonment and deportation because of her time in Israeli prisons. Omar Nayef Zayed was pursued in Bulgaria for extradition and renewed imprisonment over 25 years after he escaped Israeli prisons, only to be found dead inside the Palestinian Embassy in Sofia, where he had taken refuge, on 26 February.

Towards Liberation

Just as imprisonment is a collective experience, the resistance struggle for the liberation of the prisoners is also collective. As the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council noted in their statement for Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, “The issues of prisoners transcends one of individual human rights; it is also one of collective rights of an entire people – the Palestinian people, who continue to be deprived of the right to self-determination and sovereignty.”

And so the struggle to liberate Palestinian prisoners – and all political prisoners – is not simply a struggle for an individual human right, but for collective liberation from occupation, apartheid and settler colonialism. This is one reason why this struggle finds such resonance with other struggles for justice and liberation, linked in collective confrontation of oppression, imperialism, settler colonialism, Zionism and racism.

The movement to boycott G4S, the British-Danish security conglomerate that provides security systems, equipment and control rooms for Israeli prisons, checkpoints and police training centers – and youth imprisonment, migrant detention and deportation contracts in the US, UK and Australia – has grown even more in the past year. Palestinian prisoners and Palestinian civil society organizations joined with hundreds of international organizations to demand the UN stop doing business with G4S, a demand that has achieved clear victories in Jordan and elsewhere. In the United States, prison divestment movements challenging the mass incarceration of Black youth and other oppressed communities in the US have won divestment from G4S and the cancellation of its contracts at multiple universities. Indeed, the collective movements against G4S have garnered so much strength that the corporation announced that it would be selling off its Israeli subsidiary and exiting other “reputationally damaging” industries like youth incarceration in the US and UK within the next one to two years. At the same time, on a daily basis, G4S and its “security” technology continue to contribute to the insecurity and oppression of Palestinians and other oppressed people. The struggle to boycott G4S must continue until it is out of occupied Palestine and the prison business.

Palestinian prisoners called for “the inclusion of our cause, as prisoners of freedom and fighters for the freedom of our people, human dignity, and the right to a dignified life, within the program of the boycott movement as a major issue of paramount importance.” The struggle of Palestinian prisoners is an essential and powerful part of BDS and boycott struggles, and builds our solidarity and our responsibility to act in support of other oppressed peoples and communities.

As the Black4Palestine statement highlighted, “Israel’s widespread use of detention and imprisonment against Palestinians evokes the mass incarceration of Black people in the US, including the political imprisonment of our own revolutionaries. Soldiers, police, and courts justify lethal force against us and our children who pose no imminent threat. And while the US and Israel would continue to oppress us without collaborating with each other, we have witnessed police and soldiers from the two countries train side-by-side.”

The United States, European Union and Canada are complicit in the imprisonment of Palestinians, funding Israel and its military, supporting its military research and development and defending it in international bodies from prosecution or condemnation for its oppression of Palestinians. At the same time, these states are responsible for the detention and incarceration of migrants, the mass targeting, criminalization and oppression of Black communities, police repression, racist incarceration in countries throughout Europe, and the colonial repression of Indigenous people and communities. These policies represent one logic, that of imperialism.

At the same time, these forces are confronted by a growing movement of joint struggle against racist imprisonment and mass incarceration, in North America and around the world. Black communities, migrant justice movements, Indigenous movements and others have been leading powerful upsurges against the state repression, violence and incarceration targeting entire communities and oppressed peoples. Palestinian and pro-Palestinian activists and organizations are involved – and must be more deeply so – in all of these critical struggles.

These powerful grassroots movements – including the movement for justice in Palestine – are witnessing breakthroughs on a popular level, witnessing real, mass public demand for an end to the policies of mass incarceration and the state violence of imprisonment and police repression. Prison divestment and abolition movements and demands are growing, gathering allies and support.

The movement to free Palestinian political prisoners – and to free Palestine – is a movement to confront settler colonialism, Zionism and imperialism. It is connected deeply to movements to free international political prisoners imprisoned by the same forces: Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, Oscar Lopez Rivera,Ricardo Palmera, the political prisoners of the Philippines, of the Black Liberation Movement, and all prisoners jailed for their struggle for justice.

On 17 April 2016, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, it is critical to escalate the struggle; to consolidate and build on the victories achieved in the G4S campaign; to deepen our collective movements against mass incarceration, racism, police repression and state violence; to raise high the voices, ideas and visions of imprisoned Palestinians, leaders in the struggle for a free and liberated Palestine; and to do everything we can, at grassroots, popular and official levels, to support the demands of the Palestinian prisoners, to seek the freedom of the Palestinian people, and to hold accountable and prosecute the Israeli officials responsible for their oppression and torture in all international arenas, from prosecutions in the International Criminal Court to the international grassroots isolation of settler-colonial Israel through BDS campaigns.

We invite activists and organizations to build on and intensify their work on Palestinian prisoners in the coming year, as we seek to do this in our own organizing. We invite organizers to form Samidoun chapters in your own cities and areas, or to form Samidoun committees and subcommittees to work on Palestinian prisoners in your existing organizations. To join us, please email us at samidoun@samidoun.net.

See also:

(Source / 17.04.2016)

Farwana: 207 Palestinian captives died or killed since 1967

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– A Palestinian official has accused Israel of killing 207 Palestinian prisoners and detainees directly or indirectly since 1967. Senior official of the commission of detainees’ affairs Abdul-Naser Farwana stated on Sunday that seven of those victims had been shot dead directly by Israeli soldiers or officers in prisons. Another 126 prisoners died as a result of torture or medical neglect in prisons or after their release and 74 others were killed immediately after or during their detention, Farwana added. The official also noted that dozens of wounded Palestinians were cold-bloodedly killed by Israeli security and military forces during the current intifada.

(Source / 17.04.2016)

Al-Qassem: Countdown to prisoners exchange deal launched

GAZA, (PIC)– Hamas Movement’s armed wing, al-Qassem Brigades, vowed Sunday in televised statements to release all Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israeli jails. On the Palestinian Prisoner Day, spokesman for the Brigades Abu Obeida stressed that a new prisoner swap deal is coming soon. “We will keep our promise to them (prisoners) regardless of the cost”, he continued. “We have what will help achieve an honorable deal and satisfy our people and nation, Abu Obeida vowed. “Israeli leaders must know well that our prisoners are backed by brave men.” In this regard, Abu Obeida warned the Israeli authorities of any attempt to evade from paying the price. There are currently 7,200 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails including 450 children and 69 women.

(Source / 17.04.2016)

Clashes erupt during funeral of slain Palestinian

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– Violent clashes broke out Saturday evening in Aroub refugee camp north of al-Khalil during the funeral of the slain Palestinian Ibrahim Baradiya who was shot and killed by Israeli gunfire Thursday. Thousands of Palestinians marched in the funeral of the ex-detainee Ibrahim Baradiya, 54, while dozens gathered at the entrance to the refugee camp and stoned Israeli troops. Israeli reinforcements were immediately rushed to the area and opened their machinegun fire at the youths who responded by closing road 60, with burning tires, mostly used by Israeli settlers. The funeral set off from the National Hospital to Baradiya’s home where his family said their final goodbyes, before heading to the Omar bin al-Khattab mosque and then to the camp’s cemetery where he was laid to rest. Baradiya, from al-Khalil, is an ex-prisoner who served long years behind Israeli bars.  He was shot and killed on Thursday by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) at the entrance of al-Arroub refugee camp north of al-Khalil after an alleged stabbing attack. Baradiya is the first Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces since the March 24 killing of Abd al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif, 21, which sparked international outrage after footage was released showing an Israeli soldier shooting al-Sharif in the head while the young Palestinian was lying wounded and motionless on the ground after allegedly stabbing an Israeli soldier.

(Source / 17.04.2016)

Palestine to send medics, aid to Ecuador after deadly earthquake

A medic cleans a wound caused by a tear gas canister that hit the leg of an older protester on Oct. 13, 2015

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — A Palestinian medical team will leave the occupied West Bank on Monday to help victims of a deadly earthquake in Ecuador, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said.A powerful earthquake of a magnitude of 7.8 hit the South American country on Sunday, killing at least 77 people and injuring hundreds.Health Minister Jawad Awwad said in a statement that he had received instructions from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to send medics and medical equipment to Ecuador.Awwad added that the Ministry of Health arranged with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to facilitate the departure of a team of medics as well as medicines and medical equipment on Monday.Meanwhile, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said a team of 15 Palestinian emergency and disaster medics would leave for Ecuador on Monday.Al-Maliki added that Palestine and Ecuador have always shared a strong bond and been supportive of one another. Despite its limited resources and capabilities, Palestine would always try to help other countries hit by calamities, he added.

(Source / 17.04.2016)

PPS: 7,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails

Including 400 children, 69 women

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– On the eve of the Palestinian Prisoner Day, the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) said that 7,000 Palestinian prisoners are currently held behind Israeli bars including 400 children and 69 women. Over 700 Palestinians are imprisoned without charge or trial under administrative detention, often targeting community leaders and activists, the PPS added. 700 other prisoners are held despite suffering different diseases, 23 of whom are held in Ramla prison hospital. 30 Palestinian prisoners spent more than 20 consecutive years in Israeli jails including Karim Younis, Maher Younis, and Nael al-Barghouthi. Six Palestinian freely-elected MPs are also held in Israeli jails, while 18 Palestinian journalists suffer difficult detention conditions behind Israeli bars. On 17 April each year, the Palestinian people, the Arab world, and the free people around the world mark an international solidarity day with Palestinian prisoners.

(Source / 17.04.2016)

Inside Megiddo’s juvenile section: Education (Part 3)

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A former child prisoner at Megiddo shows a craft he made from a ping pong ball.

Ramallah, April 11, 2016—The official Israel Prison Service (IPS) website for Megiddo prison furnishes few clues that its juvenile section has the capacity to hold 60 to 70 children and is responsible for their education under international law. An auto-forwarding image carousel shows watchtowers, a wire grid canopy covering an outdoor space, and dark hallways lined with metallic grating.

In accompanying text, the IPS website describes the type of “security” prisoners detained in Megiddo, making only brief mention of its population of minors and three classrooms for “elementary education.” Under the population tab, the webpage describes Megiddo’s prisoners as “highly motivated to disturb the daily routine of the prison, direct hostile actions from prison against the State of Israel, smuggle prohibited items and hurt staff members.”

The Ofek prison webpage, by contrast, where Israeli juvenile criminal offenders are held, shows photographs of students working at desks, murals of sea creatures and a cello, a courtyard with trees, and bird decals on a window. The site states that juveniles are held at Ofek for a range of offenses and disorders: “Some of the young people have behavioral disorders and they act impulsively and rebelliously, as adolescents tend to.”

As demonstrated by these webpages, the difference in the educational approach toward Palestinian and Israeli juvenile prisoners is quite palpable. While the IPS appears to have adopted a rehabilitative framework toward Israeli criminal offenders, Palestinian juvenile “security” offenders are imprisoned in an austere, punitive model.

Strong evidence of the meager educational offerings at Megiddo lies in the fact that sentenced Palestinian children are only offered two classes: Arabic and Math. In another IPS detention facility named Ofer, located outside of Ramallah in the West Bank, Palestinian child detainees also study Hebrew. Science classes are reportedly prohibited due to “security reasons.”

Children awaiting trial or sentencing are not technically entitled to attend these classes under Israeli military law. However, negotiations between the Palestinian child prisoners’ representatives and the IPS resulted in an informal arrangement for their inclusion.

According to Defense for Children International – Palestine research, classes are offered five days a week in 45 minute periods. During the first few days after their arrival, children are tested and assigned a class schedule in leveled groups. As a result, children are not always educated with their peer group.

Child representatives and adult prisoner supervisors told DCIP that they enforce children’s attendance although the IPS has not made the classes mandatory. Abdul-Fatah Dawleh, the representative for Ofer’s juvenile section, told DCIP that children are only allowed to miss classes for family visits, court appearances, or illness.

Despite this, a 2015 DCIP survey of children detained in Megiddo found that children reported attending classes an average of two or three times per week. Child interviews suggested that children who scored in the lowest academic group or who were illiterate attended more classes than children in the “high” group. Some children who had completed most of their secondary education reported that there were no classes for their academic level.

Certified Israeli Arab teachers selected by the Israeli Ministry of Education provide the instruction in the prison classes. After the lessons, some children said they stayed in the classrooms to draw pictures and talk to their teachers.

This scant curriculum does not come close to approximating the Palestinian governmental school curriculum, which would typically offer 12 subject areas in the upper grades.

In accordance with the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Education’s regulations, a child must repeat the academic year if they miss more than 15 percent of the approximately 185 school days in the school year. However, under the guidelines, imprisonment is an excused absence, allowing a child to miss up to 30 percent of annual school days before he or she must automatically repeat the school year. Given that the prison educational program does not follow the Palestinian curriculum, all school days in prison are counted as absences.

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Abdullah did not return to school after his 14-month sentence in Megiddo and now lays tiles.

In addition to grade promotion, imprisonment presents a major obstacle for children preparing to take the Palestinian matriculation exam, the “tawjihi.” The tawjihi is a culmination of a two-year program of study and is typically taken in the final year of school.

“After the abduction of an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, the Israel Prison Service decided to end their cooperation regarding education in Israeli prisons,” Sayaf Abu Saif, director of the education department at the Commission on Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs, told DCIP. “Minors are not provided with proper education and this also affected the possibility of applying to take the tawjihi inside prison.” According to Abu Saif, the Palestinian Ministry of Education is no longer able to monitor test administration inside Megiddo, which led to the ministry placing higher eligibility restrictions on child prisoners applying to take the exam. Consequently, few children under the age of 18 can now qualify to sit the tawjihi.

Raed Riyahi, the adult prisoner appointed to manage the juvenile section of Megiddo, has made it is his personal ambition to expand the educational opportunities available to the child prisoners he oversees. At the age of 18, Riyahi was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison for an offense he had allegedly committed as a minor. “I was young when I was arrested, and those who were older than me helped me out, and now it is my time to pay them back by helping out these children,” Riyahi told DCIP.

Among his goals are adding new subjects — English, science, geography and history — to the curriculum and increasing the number of children who sit the tawjihi exam each year. Riyahi told DCIP that of 30 applications submitted in 2015, only five children were approved to take the exam.

In sharp contrast, an IPS publication about Ofek prison from 2007 reported that 34 Israeli youths took the Israeli matriculation exam with 95 percent of test takers earning a passing score. One boy who was struggling to calm his nerves was permitted to take the exam with a parrot on his shoulder.

Based on information posted on the Israeli Ministry of Public Security’s website, education at Ofek prison appears to exceed Megiddo’s program on nearly every front. As laid out in a publications entitled “New Horizons” and “Ofek Animals newsletter,” Israeli child prisoners held at Ofek participate in a differentiated educational program that fully supports the emotional and academic needs of child detainees while preparing them to succeed in the Israeli matriculation exam.

The 2007 newsletter states that a staff of 38 teachers — all of whom were trained in special education — taught the 250 students held there at the time. Students are educated in leveled groups and screened for learning and behavioral disabilities. Classes take place in a “learning center” with a plethora of further opportunities for learning outside the classroom doors. Extracurricular educational and recreational activities mentioned included: Scouts, theater, music, art, meditation, and animal care — which takes place in Ofek’s own petting zoo.

The ability to reintegrate into a school system after release is one of the primary lenses through which international law measures a juvenile prisoner’s right to education. Under the General Assembly’s Resolution 45/113, a juvenile deprived of their liberty “shall be integrated with the educational system of the country so that after their release they may continue their education without difficulty.”

By this yardstick, Israel is not meeting its international law obligation to provide an adequate education for Palestinian child prisoners. This failure is particularly disturbing in light of Israel’s strongly demonstrated understanding and implementation of this same law toward Israeli children imprisoned in Ofek.

As lucidly stated in the IPS “New Horizon” newsletter: “‘There is a conceptual difference between Ofek and prisons for adults,’ notes Lieutenant Colonel Nili Itzkowitz, Ofek’s warden. ‘Here we relate to the inmates on an individualized basis. When we receive adolescents, we assign them to the place that is the most suitable for them and that will prepare them in the best possible way for the day they are released.’”

(Source / 17.04.2016)

PM: The Israeli Occupation Has Transformed our Homeland into a Large Prison

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Ramallah/PNN/ Today, April 17, 2016, Palestinians around the world commemorate Prisoner’s Day in solidarity with the thousands of Palestinian prisoners and detainees, including women and minors, held in Israeli prisons; many of them have been subjected to torture.

Prime Minister Hamdallah renewed his support to Palestinian prisoners and their families, urging the international community to protect the human rights of Palestinian prisoners and detainees, especially the children who are subject to psychological and physical harm .

“The Israeli Occupation has transformed our homeland into a large prison,” Hamdallah said.

“Israel’s policies of detention and imprisonment violate all international legal standards, and are intended to obstruct the daily lives of Palestinians, in order to oppress an entire population,” the Prime Minister added.

Since 1967, Israel has detained and imprisoned close to one million Palestinians. As of February 2016, there are 7,000 Palestinian political prisoners languishing in Israeli jails, including 69 women and more than 400 minors. Many of the prisoners are being held in jails located inside Israel, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids the transfer of detainees outside the Occupied Palestinian Territories. 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.”

Palestinian children are the most vulnerable detainees and are exposed to long interrogation sessions that can last for a period of up to 90 days, according to the Palestinian prisoner rights group Addameer. During this time, interrogators use physical violence, threats of death, solitary confinement and sexual assault in order to extract confessions. Palestinian minor prisoners are usually interrogated without the presence of a parent or a lawyer, and are forced to sign ‘confessions’ in Hebrew, a language that most of them don’t speak.

Over the last 5 years, Israel has intensified its policy of arresting Palestinian children. In the last three months of 2015, Israel detained 1,500 minors.

(Source / 17.04.2016)

Al-Qassam Brigades marks Prisoner Day with military parade

GAZA, (PIC)– Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, organized on Saturday a military parade to mark the Palestinian Prisoner Day, which falls on April 17 each year. The participants in the parade marched from at al-Samer intersection in Gaza City to Palestine Square, amid massive presence of citizens. During the event, senior Hamas official Marwan Abu Ras reiterated al-Qassam Brigades’ vow to extract the freedom of all prisoners in Israel jails. “Al-Qassam Brigades will not rest unless all prisoners get back safely to their families,” he said.

(Source / 17.04.2016)