A high-ranking Israeli security officer was killed in occupied East Jerusalem and Israel’s regime has declared a ban on reporting the exact details of the incident. Even the name of the officer killed was reported by the Israeli press only after being approved for release by the regime.
50-year-old Amos Sa’ar, commander of Israeli occupation’s Jerusalem District Court Guard, was stabbed in the staircase of the building he lived in or near the illegal Israeli colony of Har Homa in the occupied East Jerusalem on Wednesday December 25th.
According to his wife, Orly Sa’ar, a neighbour had knocked on their door, saying after she opened it that her husband had collapsed in the staircase and that he had perhaps hit his head. She had then called an ambulance. This person had not noticed that he had been stabbed.
Sa’ar was taken to hospital in critical condition and after going through surgery, died of his injuries on the same day. He had been working for the Israeli occupation Jerusalem court since 1995, first as a liaison officer.
Israeli occupation is treating his killing as a criminal case after possible political motives were put forward in the immediate aftermath. Israeli media reported that at the time of his killing his apartment was being ‘renovated by Arabs’ and Iranian press source claimed that a man arrested for his killing was a Palestinian.
Two men have been arrested, the main suspect is a 30-year-old man who is accused of killing him with a knife and another man is accused of aiding him after the stabbing. The main suspect is reportedly suspected of a premeditated murder but will be sent to a psychiatric examination.
Israeli media describes the main accused as ‘a neighbour’ who would have harassed Sa’ar and his wife for an extended period, making him report the suspect to a police a year ago when he would have also given up his dog because the suspect was complaining about it ‘whining’. Israeli occupation police had closed that case without taking action against the suspect.
According to Amos Sa’ar’s widow, the suspect would have also threatened to kill Sa’ar just three days before doing so. He is reported to have made a Facebook post before the killing in which he would have written that he had approached the couple several times ‘but they did not change their behaviour’.
Both Israeli officials and the widow have described the main suspect as ‘mentally ill’ and it’s reported that he would have been arrested a month before the killing for ‘indecent acts with a minor’. That case is described as being still open.
The second arrested man is described as ‘elderly’ and being ‘without a criminal record’. His defense attorney Mustafa Yahya claims that he has no connection to the killing. A deliberately pixielated photograph of him shows a man perhaps in his late fifties or in his sixties.
On Friday December 27th Israel’s occupation forces wounded 39 people, including 11 minors, during the 86th Great Return March demonstration in the besieged Gaza Strip.
At least 8 people were shot with live bullets, including teenager Ahmed Ahmed Mesbah al-Hams(19) who was wounded in his feet east of Rafah, suffering a serious injury, and 42-year-old woman Huda Nayef Edwan who was shot in head in the same location.
Other wounded were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets or hit with tear-gas canisters. East of Gaza City 29-year-old Sa’ed Ahmed Tawfiq Mahani was shot in an eye with a rubber-coated steel bullet.
Dozens of protesters also suffered from ill effects after inhaling Israeli occupation tear-gas.
The Supreme National Authority of the Great Return March has decided to suspend the demonstrations until the second anniversary on March 30th 2020, after which they will take place once a month and on national events.
Later, on Sunday December 29th a farmer was shot in chest and arm with rubber-coated steel bullets by Israel’s occupation forces, suffering moderate injuries. The shooting took place in Beit Hanoun.
The following report was issued on 30 December 2019 by Palestinian prisoners’ institutions and associations (Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, Prisoners’ Affairs Commission and Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association). Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network translated the report into English.
In 2019, Israeli occupation forces arrested over 5,500 Palestinians from the occupied Palestinian territories; among them were 889 children and at least 128 women.
The Palestinian prisoners’ and human rights institutions, Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Prisoners’ Affairs Commission, indicate that the number of Palestinian prisoners and detainees in occupation prisons to the current date is approximately 5000, including 40 women, approximately 200 child detainees and 450 Palestinians held in administrative detention, Israeli imprisonment without charge or trial.
The following report aims to shed light on the reality of prisoners in the occupation prisons as well as the most prominent repressive acts exercised against them by the occupation authorities in 2019.
Torture is an ongoing policy of the occupation against Palestinian prisoners
During 2019, Israeli occupation forces continued to use torture as a tool of revenge and coercion against the prisoners to strip them of their human dignity and, most importantly, coerce them to give confessions during the interrogation period. According to investigation, 95% of detainees are subjected to torture, from the moment of arrest, through interrogation or even after transferring them to detention centers.
Among the forms of torture used in interrogation are: sleep deprivation through continuous interrogation sessions lasting up to 20 hours at a time, restraining the detainee during the interrogation period in painful or uncomfortable stress positions, tightening restraints in order to prevent blood from circulating to the hands and feet, beating, slapping, kicking, verbal abuse and humiliation, in addition to threats to arrest a member of the detainee’s family, threats of sexual assault against detainees and their family members, threats of home demolition or targeting of family members for assassination, denial of access to toilets, showers or changes of clothing for days or weeks, exposure to extreme cold or heat, exposure to continuous, loud noise and similar practices.
There are other methods that are used in the so-called “military” interrogation, used in cases labeled “time bombs” by the occupation to provide an allegedly legal justification for the occupation forces under the rubric, “the necessity of defense.” These include the use of stress positions for long periods, where the detainee is forced to bend backward over a chair or stretched in the style of a “banana,” bending the back opposite the body; the use of the “fake chair,” forcing detainees to squat or stand for long periods of time with the knees bent and back against the wall; intense pressure applied to various parts of the body; violent shaking and suffocation by various means, as well as other tactics.
Detainees are also held for long periods of time in isolation in small, windowless, very cold cells. They are deprived of sleep and basic hygiene needs, clean food and drink. This type of interrogation has led to the deaths of dozens of prisoners. Since 1967, 73 Palestinian prisoners have been killed by occupation torture.
Over the course of 2019, the prisoners’ institutions received dozens of testimonies from detainees subjected to severe torture, especially those arrested after the month of August. The most prominent of these cases was that of the prisoner Samer Arbeed.
The case of the prisoner Samer Arbeed
Samer Arbeed, 44, was seized by occupation special forces in front of his workplace on Wednesday morning, 25 September 2019, where he was accompanied by his wife. The soldiers began beating him with their weapons.
After his arrest, occupation forces prevented lawyers from visiting him. Two days after his arrest, on 27 September 2019, Samer arrived at the hospital, unconscious, with 11 fractured ribs, bruises and the signs of beatings all over his body, along with acute kidney failure, in a serious health crisis. During his time in the hospital, he required ventilation in order to breathe due to the severity of his pain when breathing and developed pneumonia. On 25 October 2019, the Israeli newspaper “Maariv” published that Samer was exposed to tear gas inside his room at the Hadassah Israeli hospital, due to the release of gas by one of the jailers accompanying him inside the room. Note that he was and still is in a delicate health situation. Occupation forces concealed this matter from Samer’s lawyer and his family. During this period, the lawyer was prohibited from visiting him for unexplained reasons.
It is worth noting that the violent and unlawful practices used against Palestinian detainees under interrogation are in direct conflict with international law, including Article 2(1) of the United Nations Convention Against Torture, which Israel signed on 3 October 1991. It requires any state party to prohibit the use of torture and related practices.
Administrative detention is a systematic, continuous policy of the occupation
The Israeli occupation authorities have continuously used the policy of administrative detention against the Palestinian people from 1967 to the present day. During the year 2019, 1035 administrative detention orders were issued.
Israeli occupation forces use the policy of administrative detention to detain Palestinian civilians without any specific charge or trial. As of the end of 019, there are approximately 450 administrative detainees in the occupation prisons, including four children and four women, the most recent of which were the administrative detention orders issued during the month of December against journalist Bushra al-Tawil and Bir Zeit University student Shatha Hassan.
The Israeli occupation forces exercise administrative detention by issuing detention orders ranging from one to six months, which are indefinitely renewable. These orders are issued on the basis of secret evidence, and the detainees and their lawyers are prevented from seeing this evidence. They are usually used in the case of a lack of sufficient evidence under the military orders imposed by the occupation on the West Bank that are used to arrest Palestinians and bring them before the military courts. This practice is a fundamental violation of a detainee’s right to know the charges against them, one of the pillars of a fair trial.
Before the second intifada, there were 12 administrative detainees. By the beginning of 2003, this number reached 1,000 administrative detainees. This confirms that the occupation uses administrative detention as a type of collective punishment against the Palestinian people’s right to resist the occupation, a right guaranteed by international standards.
Administrative detention, as practiced by the occupying power, is arbitrary and illegal. According to international law, administrative detention may not be permitted unless there is a specific, clear threat to the security of the state. Therefore, it can not be used systematically or for unlimited periods of time.
Over 50 prisoners conduct hunger strikes against the occupation’s policies
These repressive measures led the prisoners to confront their jailers through hunger strikes, as over 50 prisoners launched hunger strikes in 2019 in opposition to the policies of the prison administration and the Shin Bet intelligence services. The issue of administrative detention was the most prominent concern faced by the prisoners, in addition to medical neglect, isolation, arbitrary transfer, and repression and torture in the interrogation centers.
In comparison to the previous year, we find a notable escalation in these individual hunger strikes. Most of those who launched hunger strikes are former prisoners who spent years in the occupation prisons and detention centers, most of them in administrative detention, and some of them who fought multiple strikes during their years of arrest.
The Israeli prison administration continued to practice a range of retaliatory measures against the striking prisoners as a systematic policy, in an attempt to break their strikes, most notably: denial of family visits, obstruction of communication with lawyers, frequent transfer from one detention center to another and isolating them in cells that are not suitable for human life. The strikers are held in their cells around the clock and, even when they are transferred to civilian hospitals, they continue to suffer from harsh treatment, including their continued shackling to the bed, causing them further pain.
Occupation forces deliberately delay their responses to the demands of the striking prisoners, leading them to dangerous health situations, which can often have long-term effects on the striking detainees’ health and life.
The military courts of the occupation are the primary tool in consolidating the administrative detention policy and practicing additional forms of retaliation. They simply carry out and implement the decisions of the Shin Bet intelligence services. This is clear in all of the decisions issued in various cases against the striking prisoners.
In most cases, the prisoners who went on hunger strike against their administrative detention suspended their strikes after clear agreements or pledges to set a limit to their administrative detention and a date for their release.
The case of Ahmad Zahran: two strikes in one year
Striking prisoner Ahmad Zahran, from the village of Deir Abu Mishaal, carried out two strikes against his administrative detention in 2019. The first strike was in the month of March and lasted for 39 days. He suspended his strike based on a promise for his release. Instead, the occupation prison admnistration informed him before the date of his scheduled release that a new administrative detention order would be issued against him. This prompted the detainee to resume his strike in September 2019. He continues to strike as of the date of the release of this report.
The military court in his case was clearly only implementing the orders of the Shin Bet intelligence agency. After the issuance of the last four-month administrative detention order, the court continues to delay its response to the appeal submitted by the prisoner against the confirmation of the order, through claims by the military prosecutors that they will present new evidence against him. Zahran was recently interrogated despite being on hunger strike for over 90 days in an attempt to justify his continued imprisonment without charge or trial.
Collective steps of struggle by the prisoners, including a hunger strike
Palestinian prisoners in the occupation prisons launched steps of struggle against various repressive practices of the occupation authorities. The most prominent of these struggles confronted the installation of jamming devices installed by the occupation prison administration as a political decision, and prisoners demanded the installation of public phones, a historic demand of the Palestinian prisoners’ movement collective hunger strikes.
Another objective of these steps of struggle inside the prison was to respond to the attacks by repressive forces, which escalated since the beginning of 2019. Dozens of prisoners were injured in these raids, most severely in the Ofer and Negev desert prisons.
The most visible struggle took place in April 2019, where the prisoners launched gradual, escalating steps of struggle. Dozens of prisoners launched hunger strikes, along with rotating collective support strikes launched by many more in support of a group of administrative detainees carrying out individual strikes.
Martyrs of the prisoners’ movement in 2019
Five prisoners lost their lives in Israeli occupation prisons since 2019. They were killed by systematic policies of torture and slow killing implemented over years against them, whether by delayed or denied medical treatment, use of access to medical care as a tactic of coercion, or through the harsh conditions of detention and torture under interrogation – or by direct shooting of them during their arrest. This brings the number of martyrs of the prisoners’ movement since 1967 to 222.
The first imprisoned martyr of 2019 was Fares Baroud from Gaza, who was killed slowly by he occupation over 28 years of detention, through a number of systematic tools of torture, including his detention in isolation for many years in cells that are unfit for human habitation, leading to the development of several diseases. His sickness was met with intentional medical neglect, an ongoing aspect of abuse and mistreatment of Palestinian prisoners, which led to his death on 6 February 2019. Baroud was one of the “old prisoners” jailed before the signing of the Oslo agreement, and the occupation failed to release him and refused repeatedly to do so. He is from Gaza and was jailed in 1991, sentenced to life imprisonment plus 35 years.
On 27 April 2019, occupation forces shot and severely injured Omar Awni Younis, 20 years old, from the town of Sanniriya near Qalqilya. He was arrested and detained while being held at Bellinson Israeli hospital, and his detention was extended while he was hospitalized. His family was not allowed to visit him until his death was announced.
On 16 July 2019, Palestinian prisoner Nasser Majid Taqatqa, 31, from the town of Beit Fajar near Bethlehem, died in the Nitzan Ramla detention facility after being totured at al-Moskobiyeh and Petah Tikva interrogation centers. During his interrogation, he developed acute pneumonia and was medically neglected, leading to his death.
On 8 September 2019, Bassam Sayeh, 46, from Nablus, died after being subjected to a policy of slow killing since his arrest in 2015, when he was arrested by the occupation while suffering from cancer. Throughout his imprisonment, his illness worsened and he was exposed to torture and mistreatment under interrogation. He remained imprisoned for most of his detention at the Ramleh prison clinic, called the “slaughterhouse” by Palestinian prisoners for its mistreatment and neglect of Palestinian prisoners held there.
On 26 November 2019, the prisoner Sami Abu Diak, 36, was martyred after a policy of slow killing that began in 2015, when he was subjected to a medical error during surgery at the Israeli Soroka hospital. Part of his intestine was removed and he was injured. He was repeatedly transferred in the so-called “bosta’ vehicle, seen by the prisoners as a journey of torment, with infections, kidney failure and lung disease. He later underwent three surgeries and remained sedated for a month connected to respirators, and was later diagnosed with cancer.
Abu Diak, from the town of Silat al-Dhahr in the Jenin governorate, was arrested by the occupation on 17 July 2002 on charges of participating in the Palestinian resistance through armed struggle. He was sentenced to three life sentences and 30 years. His brother, Samer Abu Diak, is also imprisoned and sentenced to life imprisonment. His brother accompanied him throughout the years of his illness at the Ramleh prison clinic to provide him with necessary support for his basic activities of daily life.
The occupation authorities continue to detain the bodies of four martyr prisoners in their morgues, including: Aziz Oweisat, 53, from Jabal al-Mukaber in Jerusalem, killed in 2018 as a result of beating and abuse by the “Nachson” repressie forces, in addition to the prisoners Fares Baroud, Nasser Taqatqa and Bassam Sayeh.
The policy of medical neglect is an aspect of torture
The number of sick prisoners in the occupation prisons has reached over 700, among them at least 10 suffering from cancer and over 200 with chronic illnesses. According to the research of the prisoners’ institutions, the occupation authorities continued their policy of medical neglect against sick and injured prisoners in 2019. This comes in addition to the ill treatment to which they are exposed, despite their deteriorating health, through assaulting them, handcuffing them and transporting them using “bosta” vehicles without regard to their health conditions as well as through denying them treatment, testing and diagnosis of their conditions for long periods, up to years at a time.
The doctors often provide the ill prisoners who see them with painkillers only, and only begin a serious investigation only after their conditions have seriously worsened. The most prominent instances of medical neglect include deprivation of treatment, delayed treatment and late diagnosis of disease due to delayed medical examinations. There are dozens of prisoners waiting for years for transfer to hospitals to perform surgeries. Some of them have reached a stage where treatment is difficult, while they live in conditions of detentions that do not meet minimum standards for health. As a result, hundreds of prisoners have developed various diseases.
Despite all this, the Israeli occupation prison administration does not stop its repressive policies against the sick prisoners nor does it stop them from carrying out attacks against them. Many cases have been documented, most notably that of Nasser Taqatqa, who was martyred as a result of a complex crime carried out by interrogators and prison management, through combined policies of torture and medical neglect.
Since 1967, 67 prisoners held by the occupation have died as a result of medical neglect, which forms a part of its comprehensive approach of torture and abuse.
The prisoner suffering from cancer, Muwaffaq Urouq
Medical examinations on Muwaffaq Urouq, 77 years old, in June 2019 revealed that he had liver and stomach cancer. The occupation prison authorities delayed his transfer to the hospital for chemotherapy for several months despite these positive medical tests, which exacerbated his poor health condition.
Not only did the occupation engage in delay and procrastination as a retaliatory measure, but he was also held in an isolated area in Ashkelon prison for a month in severe, harsh conditions along with a number of sick prisoners after a repressive attack against prisoners in Ashkelon in October 2019.
Muwaffaq Urouq is from occupied Palestine 1948. He is serving a 30-year sentence and has been jailed since 2003.
Arbitrary detention of children on the rise
Israeli occupation authorities escalated their arbitrary arrests of Palestinian children and youth and practiced multiple forms of torture against them during and after their arrest, which constitutes a grave breach of international law, especially the Convention Against Torture and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
During 2019, Israeli occupation forces arrested 889 children. By the end of the year, the number of detained children in Israeli jails reached approximately 200, while 35 are held under house arrest.
In a dangerous precedent that violated humanitarian and legal standards, during the month of June, the occupation authorities summoned both the father of the child Muhammad Rabi` Alyan, 4, and the father of the child Qais Firas Obaid, 6, both of them from the town of Al-Issawiya in Jerusalem, to interrogate them about charges of throwing rocks at Israeli occupation police vehicles. On 1 August 2019, the occupation authorities summoned the family of the 8-year-old child, Malak Sidr, from the Hebron governorate, to interrogate the young girl. The seriousness of these summonses, in addition to extracting information from children, comes in demanding their families to bring them to interrogation, a violation of the bond between parents and children.
The occupation authorities practiced many violations against the child prisoners, from the moment of their arrest and the harsh methods used arresting them, whether during arrest operations on the street or by invading their homes and seizing them from their families in the late hours of the night, taking them to the interrogation and detention centers. Among these violations included: denying them food or drink for long hours – and in some documented cases for two days, verbally abusing them and verbally threatening them, physically intimidating them, extracting confessions from them under pressure and threats, prompting them to sign statements written in the Hebrew language without translation, depriving them of their legal right to the presence of a parent and lawyer during the interrogation, and other methods of abuse.
Child detainees are subjected to methods of torture and degrading treatment that are contrary to international human rights standards. The majority of them are held in prisons inside the Occupying Power, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. This also causes many of them to be denied visits from their families. This is in addition to the collective suffering of the family in obtaining the necessary permits to visit, as the occupation authorities delay in granting the permits to prolong the waiting period, while many more families are denied permits altogether.
The arrest and torture of women
Palestinian women are subjected to arrest and abuse by the Israeli occupation authorities alongside the rest of the Palestinian society, without regard for their physical, psychological or social health and well-being.
As of the end of 2019, the occupation detains 40 women prisoners in Israeli jails. Among them are four women held under administrative detention, imprisoned without charge or trial: Shorouq al-Badan, Alaa al-Bashir, Bushra al-Tawil and Shatha Hassan. 27 women are sentenced to prison terms. The two wth the longest sentences are Shatila Ayyad, sentenced to 16 years in prison, and Maysoon Musa, sentenced to 15 years in prison. 13 more women are still going through military trials or interrogations.
Among the prisoners, eight are wounded. The most severe case is that of the prisoner Israa Jaabis, 32, from Jerusalem. She was arrested by the occupation forces after a fire inside her car. Occupation forces shot at her, forcing her to remain inside the burning car. As a result, she received severe burns that disfigured her face, head, chest and fingers, and many of her fingers were amputated. Despite her severe injuries and ongoing pain, she was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
The arrests were not limited to one segment of Palestinian women but affected women from all sectors of the Palestinian people, including the arrests of legislators like Khalida Jarrar, the families of martyrs like Wafaa Mahdawi (the mother of the martyr Ashraf Na’alwa), and mothers, such as the prisoner Asiya Kaabneh, the mother of nine children, and Nisreen Hassan, the mother of seven, who has been held under arrest for six years. Her husband and children are in the Gaza Strip, and she has been repeatedly been denied visits with them as well as with her brothers, who are in Haifa, since 2015. This policy of isolating her from her family has continued despite the fact that her youngest child was only 8 months old and her oldest daughter 11 years of age at the time of her arrest; her older daughter has been forced to care for her siblings along with her father.
Women prisoners experience inhumane conditions of detention, deprived of their rights to physical and psychological privacy. They are subjected to physical abuse and medical neglect and are regularly denied the most basic of rights, such as the ability to assemble for collective prayer or study, in addition to the violation of their privacy by installing cameras in the courtyards of the prison, pressuring women to cover up even during exercise. They are also denied the right to have a library inside the prison despite repeated requests and are prevented from carrying out sewing, embroidery and handiwork, by denying the entry of tools and supplies to do so. They are also subjected to abuse during transfer through the “bosta” vehicle to courts or hospitals. Each transfer takes hours, and they are roughly handled by the jailers and “Nachson” forces. The prisoners’ institutions have documented repeated insults and harsh shackling of the prisoner Wafaa Mahdawi during transfers to the military court, injuring her hands.
The case of Mays Abu Ghosh
Mays Abu Ghosh, 21, from Qalandiya refugee camp, was arrested on 29 August 2019. After her arrest, she was transferred to the Moskobiyeh interrogation center for 30 days of interrogation. She was denied access to a lawyer throughout this entire period, during which she was subjected to severe torture, including sleep deprivation, use of intense stress positions around the clock, use of the so-called “military” interrogation and the forced use of the “banana” and “squatting” stress positions. The occupation also used her family in an attempt to coerce her into a confession, arresting her brother Suleiman and sending him to administrative detention, and bringing her parents to the detention center in order to tell her that they were being arrested.
Policy of collective punishment
The Israeli occupation authorities have adopted a policy of collective punishment against the prisoners’ families. This can include summoning family members of prisoners for interrogation, arrest or coercive purposes, including their siblings and parents. This comes in addition to repeated invasions of their homes, ransacking their belongings, as well as the demolition of the homes of a number of Palestinian prisoners as part of the retaliation against them and their families. The policy of home demolitions against Palestinian prisoners is an old policy practiced by the occupation authorities with renewed high intensity in recent years, particularly amid escalating confrontation with the occupation.
In 2019, the occupation authorities demolished the homes of the prisoners Khalil Yousef Jabareen from Yatta and Asim al-Barghouthi from the town of Kobar, as well as the home of his brother, Saleh al-Barghouthi, who was killed by Israeli occupation forces. They also demolished the family home of the prisoner Islam Abu Hamed, the fourth time that it was demolished, as well as the demolition of the homes of four prisoners from the town of Beit Qahel in the al-Khalil governorate. Those prisoners are: Ahmad Asafra, his brother Qasem, Naser Saleh Asafra and Yousef Saeed Zahour.
The case of Widad al-Barghouthi
The occupation forces arrested Widad al-Barghouthi, a lecturer at Bir Zeit University and the mother of the prisoner Qassam al-Barghouthi, on 1 September 2019. Her son, the prisoner Qassam, was severely tortured in the Moskobiyeh interrogation center at the time. On 16 September, Widad was released on conditions until the completion of a military trial. She was held under house arrest in Area C until the end of the case and required to pay a fine of 40,000 NIS ($10,000 USD).
The arrest of journalists, legislators and activists
There are 11 Palestinian journalists detained in Israeli prisoners, the longest-held of whom is the prisoner Mahmoud Musa Issa from Jerusalem, sentenced to three life sentences. During 2019, the occupation arrested at least 10 journalists, including two women, Mays Abu Ghosh, 21 and Bushra al-Tawil, 26.
The military courts are continuing to prosecute Abu Ghosh for student activities, while al-Tawil has been ordered to administrative detention for four months.
In Jerusalem, the occupation prevented the Palestine TV crew from working or communicating. A number of them were summoned and interrogated on multiple occasions and they continue to be prohibited from working.
Occupation authorities also continue to imprison eight Palestinian legislators, including Khalida Jarrar, as well as Marwan Barghouthi, Ahmad Sa’adat, Mohammed Abu Jahisha, Mohammed Ismail al-Tal, Hassan Yousef, Azzam Salhab and Mohammed Jamal al-Natsheh. Most of them are held in administrative detention.
Israeli occupation forces pursue a policy of arrest and imprisonment of journalists, political leaders and activists in an attempt to undermine their social, cultural and political role, as well as to maintain control over the Palestinian arena and to suppress all attempts to expose the crimes of the occupation.
The imprisoned journalist Bushra al-Tawil
Israeli occupation forces detained the journalist Bushra al-Tawil on 11 December 2019 and ordered her to administrative detention for four months. She is one of four Palestinian women jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention. Tawil was arrested three times before the current arrest. In her first arrest, in 2011, she was sentenced to 16.5 months in prison and was released early as part of the Wafa al-Ahrar prisoner exchange.
In 2014, she was re-arrested along with dozens of freed prisoners in the Wafa al-Ahrar exchange and her prior sentence was reimposed. In 2017, she was arrested again and ordered to administrative detention for eight months under the pretext of a “secret file.” This year, she was arrested only days after her father, Jamal al-Tawil, was released after 20 months in administrative detention.
The policy of repressive raids in Israeli prisons
2019 witnessed an escalation in the number of invasions, searches and raids carried out by special repressive units in the prisoners’ sections in Israeli prisons and detention centers. These were the most violent incidents since those in the Negev desert prison in 2007, in which the prisoner Mohammed al-Ashqar was shot by Israeli forces and killed instantly.
Ofer prison stormed in January and August
In January and August 2019, Ofer prison was repeatedly subjected to raids by the “Matsada” unit in several sections. On 20 and 21 January 2019, these repressive units raided a number of sections, carrying out a provocative search of the prisoners’ rooms in section 15 and 17 and ransacking and destroying prisoners’ belongings. The prisoners protested the invasion and confronted the repressive unit, which led to an escalation of confrontation inside the sections, in which prisoners were assaulted in the two sections, beaten with batons and fists and the repressive units used pepper gas, metal bullets and sound bombs.
Storming Negev and Ramon prisons in March
In the harshest attack in over 10 years, section 3 in the Negev desert prison was invaded by the Matsada unit. According to the testimonies of many prisoners, 24 March 2019 was the occasion of a brutal attack on the prisoners, in which the prison yard was a battlefield. Many were severely beaten, isolated and restricted for long hours. Many were seriously injured and some transferred to the hospital. The prisoners of section 98 were isolated for a whole month in conditions unfit for human life.
The testimony of the prisoner Imad al-Sharif
During his testimony during a lawyer visit, Imad al-Sharif emphasized the experience of prisoners in the Negev desert prison, saying that this was unlike anything that had happened in years, not only in the Negev prison but in other prisons and detention centers. In his statement, Al-Sharif says: On Sunday, 24 March at approximately 8:00 pm, the Negev prison administration informed the prisoners in Section 4 that they would be transferred to Section 3 in order to conduct an inspection of the section. The prisoners prepared their belongings for transfer. Out of 98 prisoners, 94 were transferred to Section 3 without any problem. Of the other four prisoners, two were in Section 4 and two between the two sections. There was a clash between a jailer and a prisoner in Section 4, and none of the other prisoners had any idea of what was happening. This took place at 10:30 at night, and the prison repressive forces invaded Section 4 in large numbers and grabbed the prisoner and the other three prisoners who were outside Section 3, brutally attacking them even when they were tied and handcuffed, then the prison administration issued orders for the Matsada unit and the Keter unit as well as the prison guards to storm Section 3.
The prison guards attacked with batons and iron rods. After that, they forced the prisoners into a kneeling position while continuing attacks, and the assaults included screaming and insulting the prisoners as well as religious insults. The invasion continued until 4:00 am the next morning, 25 March. After that, the prisoners were taken into tents, and the attacks continued inside the tents. They were held in a very cold atmosphere, wet clothes and with bound hands and feet, forced to sit motionless until 10:30. During the night hours, approximately 11 prisoners were transferred to Soroka hospital.
This raid was preceded by another invasion by the Matsada repressive unit in Section 1 in Ramon prison, one of multiple prisons experiencing protests against the installation of mobile phone jamming devices that negatively affect the prisoners’ health.
Isolation is one of the tools of psychological torture used by the Israeli occupation authorities against Palestinian prisoners. It is implemented by the Israeli prison administration on the basis of orders by the Shin Bet intelligence agency. The policy of isolation and solitary confinement is justified on the basis of an unspecified “threat to the security of the state,” often on the basis of a “secret file.” It is also frequently used as a punishment for shorter periods. The prison administration typically gives no details about the seriousness of the alleged claims against isolated prisoners.
The Shin Bet issues isolation orders for periods of six months at a time, which can be renewed by the military courts on the basis of a claimed “secret file” or evidence of “danger.”
When held in isolation, detainees are kept in their cells throughout the day except for one hour of recreation. The cell in which the detainee is held is a small, windowless room with a toilet. It has one opening, an iron slot in the door through which food is entered. Dozens of isolated prisoners have reported insect infestation and that these cells are extremely cold in winter and hot in summer.
The prison administration routinely uses isolation against all hunger striking prisoners, as an initial punitive measure, and multiple cases of isolation were documented during the year, including the case of Islam Weshahi.
The case of Islam Weshahi
The prison administration continued to isolate Palestinian detainee Islam Weshahi since March 2019, when he was captured, assaulted and severely beaten by repressive forces in the Negev prison, injured with broken bones and severe bruising. This case emerged during the violent events in the Negev prison in March 2019 following a confrontation between the repressive forces and the prisoners amid the installation of mobile phone jamming devices in the prisons. The occupation accused him of attempting to kill a prison guard in a military court indictment. Until today, he remains in isolation and his isolation was recently renewed again.
Islam Weshahi is from Jenin governorate and has been detained since 2002. He is sentenced to 19 years in prison.