Photo: Samidoun Europe coordinator Mohammed Khatib with Wilhen Nehomar Diaz Lara, Charge d’affaires at the embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the Netherlands
Samidoun Netherlands visited the Venezuelan embassy in the Netherlands on Tuesday, 14 January, with Mohammed Khatib, European coordinator of Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network. The activists met with Wilhen Nehomar Diaz Lara, Charge d’affaires at the embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, where they shared information about the current situation in Palestine as well as the imperialist attacks confronting Venezuela.
The Samidoun organizers spoke about the cases of Palestinian political prisoners, including the weeks of action to free Ahmad Sa’adat and all Palestinian prisoners. They also discussed the escalating use of torture in Israeli interrogation centers, including the prominent cases of prisoners such as Samer Arbeed, Mays Abu Ghosh and Walid Hanatsheh, who were subjected to severe physical torture in an attempt to force coerced confessions.
Khatib focused on the situation of Palestinians and solidarity organizers in Europe, including the difficult circumstances of Palestinian refugees who increasingly face threats of deportation and other repressive mechanisms, as well as the attempts by European governments to criminalize or suppress the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign and growing solidarity with Palestinians. He also spoke about the failure of the Palestinian Authority and its embassies to truly represent the interests of the Palestinian people, especially Palestinian refugees both in Europe and in the camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.
The Samidoun organizers noted their strong solidarity with the Venezuelan people in their struggle confronting imperialism, denouncing the role of the United States and the European Union in attempting to impose a right-wing coup, confiscate Venezuelan resources and undermine the Venezuelan people’s right to self-determination. They emphasized the strong support for Venezuela in the Palestinian community, especially as the Bolivarian Republic has consistently taken a strong stand internationally in defense of the rights of the Palestinian people.
Diaz Lara spoke about the current situation in Venezuela, particularly the devastating sanctions (unlawful unilateral coercive measures) directed against the Bolivarian Republic as well as the attempt to foment a right-wing coup. He spoke about the involvement of European banks in confiscating the resources of the Venezuelan people in service of the coup, and the effects on Venezuelans’ access to medicine and other basic needs. He also spoke about the coup in Bolivia and the troubling human rights crisis in Colombia, especially the escalating number of assassinations targeting social movement leaders.
He emphasized that despite the attacks against the Venezuelan people and the Bolivarian Revolution, Venezuela remains committed to its internationalist vision. He discussed the history and present of Dutch colonialism in Latin America, particularly in Suriname and the Antilles, and urged the importance of global solidarity.
He expressed his solidarity and that of the Bolivarian Republic and the Venezuelan people with Palestine, saying that “Palestinians are always welcome and Palestine is always our priority.” Samidoun Netherlands agreed to join the solidarity committee meetings that take place at the embassy and to work together in the future to build joint struggle against imperialism and for liberation, from Venezuela to Palestine.
Israeli occupation officials announced that child prisoners would be transferred away from the Ofer prison and separated into cells without the adult prisoner representatives who support them before the prison administration on Saturday, 11 January. In response, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society noted that this is another attempt to confiscate one of the achievements of Palestinian prisoners that came through long periods of struggle, putting Palestinian children and youth at further risk.
The Prisoners Society noted that, rather than being held in groups, child prisoners would be held two to a cell. It said that this tactic was designed to isolate imprisoned children further from one another and from protective oversight of Palestinian elder prisoners. It also noted that prisoners would launch a series of protests in response, noting that this comes as part of a series of efforts to roll back achievements defending Palestinian prisoners’ rights that has been taking place systematically since 2018.
Specifically, the Israeli prison administration declared that around 60 child prisoners – out of a total of 200 children currently detained by the Israeli occupation. On Sunday evening, they announced that 34 Palestinian children would be transferred to Damon prison on Monday morning, 13 January, without the presence of their adult representatives.
Removing Palestinian child prisoners from the Ofer prison is particularly worrisome because Ofer is the main Israeli prison within the occupied West Bank of Palestine. Despite the Fourth Geneva Convention’s prohibition of the transfer of people under occupation to detention centers and prisons in the occupying power’s territory, the vast majority of Palestinian prisoners are subjected to exactly this type of transfer.
Because the Israeli occupation controls access to these prisons, Palestinians jailed in these prisons cannot receive family visits unless their family members receive a permit from the Israeli occupation authorities. These permits are frequently denied or revoked on spurious or nonexistent grounds of security, leaving jailed Palestinians without family visits. The impact on these denials on Palestinian children and their families is even more profound than its effect on adult prisoners.
This came as the Palestinian Prisoners’ Commission reported that Palestinian children in Ofer prison and their families had faced 54,000 NIS ($15,500 USD) in fines in December 2019 alone. In December 2019, 38 child prisoners entered Ofer prison, where there are currently 82 children imprisoned in two sections. Twenty children were sentenced in December to one week in prison to 23 months, while one child prisoner was ordered jailed without charge or trial under Israeli administrative detention for four months. (Administrative detention orders are indefinitely renewable.)
The Commission noted that these hefty fines are an arbitrary mechanism designed as a form of collective punishment for Palestinian families, in order to further restrict them by burdening them with unaffordable fines.
Every year, around 700 Palestinian children are brought before Israeli military courts after being arrested, detained and interrogated. The vast majority report some form of torture and abuse, including kicking and beating in military jeeps as well as psychological torture during interrogation, including threats to arrest family members. Palestinian children are routinely denied access to parents or lawyers during interrogation and are held in solitary confinement. Several Palestinian children are jailed without charge or trial under indefinitely renewable Israeli administrative detention orders.
The No Way to Treat a Child campaign focuses on the effort in the United States to pass H.R. 2407, the “Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act,” a bill prohibiting U.S. taxpayer funding for the military detention of children by any country, including Israel.
Samidoun urges people in the U.S. to support the No Way to Treat a Child campaign and advocate for the release of all Palestinian children from Israeli prisons. We demand the freedom of all Palestinian child prisoners and Palestinian prisoners sentenced as children in Israeli jails, as part of the liberation of all Palestinians imprisoned by the occupation – and the liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea.
After Mays Abu Ghosh spoke about the torture and abuse to which she was subjected under a month of Israeli interrogation at the Moskobiyeh detention center, the family of her friend and fellow Palestinian student prisoner Samah Jaradat discussed her experience, as reported in Quds News.
Jaradat was subjected to 22 days of harsh interrogation at the Moskobiyeh detention center in occupied Jerusalem after she was seized by Israeli occupation forces who invaded her family’s home in Al-Bireh on 7 September 2019. Her father reported that armed occupation soldiers began banging on the door of the family home at 3:00 am. After the soldiers invaded the family home, two female soldiers entered Samah’s room alone and began to interrogate her.
Samah refused to open her phone for the occupation soldiers, so they brought her father to demand he open the phone for them. He reported that when he supported his daughter, an Israeli intelligence officer began questioning him about “how he raised his children,” a theme he had earlier pursued when Samah’s brother refused to greet the intelligence officer. The agent began shouting at her father, and he affirmed that he was proud of his children and how they were raised.
Samah’s father reported that the invading soldiers blindfolded her, cuffed her hands and detained her at a military camp before transferring her to the Moskobiyeh detention center. He said that “At the beginning of her interrogation at Moskobiyeh, the jailers strip-searched Samah and kept her in the room for five consecutive hours without anyone else present before beginning the interrogation.” He said that she was held in isolation and subjected to various forms of psychological torture, including sleep deprivation, during her interrogation. She was prohibited from seeing a lawyer for over 22 days.
He also said that “The occupation intelligence officers were interrogating Samah for lengthy, continuous hours, from 9 in the morning until 5 am the next day, in order to exhaust her and attempt to force her to confess.” He said that they first began to interrogate her, accusing her of participating in exploding a roadside bomb placed by the Palestinian resistance near an illegal Israeli settlement, but after discovering nothing, shifted instead to questioning her about her student activism at Bir Zeit University.
During the interrogation, Israeli interrogators threatened to keep her in prison for the rest of her life or to arrest her father or her brothers, her father reported. He also said that his daughter was taken to a room with speakers broadcasting screams and cries of pain, which Samah was told were the sounds being made by Palestinian prisoners during interrogation under torture.
Samah’s father reported that the Israeli intelligence officers directed that Samah be moved to the cells of collaborators in Ramle prison. This is a well-known technique in which arrested Palestinians are transferred to cells with others who claim to also be Palestinian prisoners. However, they are actually collaborators working for Israeli intelligence who are attempting a different form of interrogation to extract information from the person who has been detained.
He reported that one of the intelligence agents came to Samah and identified himself as a representative of the Palestinian prisoners, saying that he had requested that a place be opened for her with the rest of the prisoners. The undercover agent asked her to tell him all of the details about her political work and student activity, but she refused, because she recognized that it was a trap, her father reported.
“Samah has a strong personality and a deep concern for the Palestinian national cause. She loves her family very much. These are qualities that always make us proud, and we hope to see her free very soon,” he said.
In a letter she sent to her family, Samah wrote: “I send this letter to you from Damon prison, located on Mount Carmel. I am fine and everything is well. During the interrogation period, you were always with me at every moment. I was strengthened by your strength, so stay strong. I love you very much and hope you are well. When I saw you, and to Samar, Samer, Salwa, Sami and Salma, I love you so much.
Samah Jaradat was arrested only days after her graduation from her undergraduate studies at Bir Zeit University with a major in sociology. There are dozens of Palestinian students from Bir Zeit alone held in Israeli prisons, including several jailed under administrative detention without charge or trial.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges the broadest possible action and mobilization to support Samah Jaradat, Mays Abu Ghosh and Palestinian students and new graduates jailed by the Israeli occupation forces. We urge students around the world to hold events, vigils and informational actions to highlight the struggle of Palestinian students under occupation and all people of conscience to develop the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Freedom for Samah Jaradat and all Palestinian students!
Arabic source for this report: https://qudsn.net/post/171912/
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network expresses our strongest condemnation of the latest crime by the United States against the people of Iran and Iraq, the assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike near the Baghdad International Airport on 2 January 2020.
For over three decades, the United States has been engaged in a series of ongoing wars and occupation of Iraq, which has encompassed sanctions, invasion, occupation, bombing, the starvation of civilians, the destruction of infrastructure and the fomenting of civil war. This latest attack – on Iraqi soil, in apparent “revenge” for Iraqis demanding the U.S. occupation out of their country – cannot be separated from the continuing war on and occupation of Iraq.
Of course, this attack is also a massive escalation in the ongoing threats of war on Iran. The assassination of a major military – and political – leader is a blatant act of war and aggression that comes atop the ever escalating use of the economic weapon of sanctions against Iran, a project in which U.S. imperialism is fully allied with Israel in order to target the Iranian people in order to prevent any challenge to the imperialist-Zionist-reactionary hegemony and domination in the region.
This assassination puts millions of lives at risk throughout the region, primarily the lives of working people and the popular classes in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Palestine. It is a blatant act of imperial aggression with massive implications. We note that the goal of this assassination appparently seeks to threaten the resistance to imperialism more broadly throughout the region and extend the precedent of U.S. impunity for war crimes.
In particular, we note the particularly dangerous role played by U.S. “anti-terrorism” legislation. Nearly every Palestinian resistance organization is labeled a “foreign terrorist organization” by the United States. This designation is used to imprison charity workers like the Holy Land Five, to divide Palestinian communities in exile from those fighting inside occupied Palestine and struggling in the refugee camps, to threaten activists and organizers around the world with criminalization. In the case of the assassination of Qassem Soleiman and the extraordinary action of the U.S. in declaring a state’s armed forces to be a “foreign terrorist organization,” we recognize that these laws are also a threat of death.
We know that the real force of terror in the world is that of U.S. imperialism and its partners, the Zionist project and Arab reactionary regimes. In Palestine, 5,000 Palestinian prisoners – and indeed, a whole people – are labeled as “terrorists” by the perpetrators of ethnic cleansing, colonialism, mass arrests, extrajudicial killing, torture, land theft, home demolition, decades of assassinations: That is, they are labeled by the perpetrators of over 100 years of terror. For all of that time, a war has been waged on Palestinian resistance and on the resistance and self-determination of peoples throughout the region. Despite the atrocities and the military might of the perpetrators, that resistance has continued to fight for justice, return and liberation, to make it clear that the Palestinian people, the Arab people, the Iranian people and all peoples in the area hold the promise of a society liberated from oppression.
Imperialist wars anywhere are always wars on the people everywhere.We urgently call on friends and supporters of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian resistance, especially within the United States and its allied imperialist states (Canada, the European Union and others) to take action to build a real anti-war movement to confront the crimes of empire. Now is the time to stand up and say clearly: US out of Iraq! No war on Iran! We stand with the resistance!
In her statement to the lawyers, Abu Ghosh recalled that she was seized by Israeli occupation forces in a violent raid on 29 August 2019, when the armed soldiers removed the door of her family home and invaded it, ransacking her and her family’s belongings, blindfolding and cuffing her and then taking her to an occupation military camp near Qalandiya checkpoint. While she was held there, the soldiers dragged her violently as she was handcuffed and blindfolded while cursing at her and screaming in her face.
Later, Mays was transferred to the Moskobiyeh interrogation center. She was strip-searched and then transferred to the interrogation cells. She recalled that her interrogations lasted for many hours at a time while she was shackled to a small chair inside a very cold cell. After six days, the “military interrogation” began with her, which included the use of stress positions like the “banana” and “squatting” or the “false chair” for long periods of time, in an attempt to coerce a false confession from her.
She was slapped, beaten and deprived of sleep. This “military interrogation” continued for three days, during which all of these torture tactics continued. Abu Ghosh said that at one time, she tried to escape from the interrogators and sit in one of the corners of the cell, but the interrogator began slamming her head against the wall, kicking her while yelling obscenities. Next, interrogators deliberately brought her brother and her parents in an attempt to coerce her into confessing by threatening to detain them. Her 17-year-old brother was later ordered to administrative detention, without charge or trial, despite being a minor.
Mays said that the interrogation cells have extremely harsh conditions, lacking the basic elements for human life. The walls are concrete and rough, the mattress is thin, without a cover or a pillow, and the lights are kept on 24/7 even as loud sounds constantly disturb the prisoners. She also noted that the meals provided were very poor and that wastewater would enter her cell and flow onto the mattress.
She said that at one time, a large rat entered her cell, which she believes was intentionally entered by the interrogators in order to further torment her. They repeatedly delayed in responding to the simplest requests, for example to access the bathroom, and was repeatedly provoked and ridiculed. After 30 days of this treatment under interrogation, she was transferred to the Damon prison, where she remains today, with her fellow Palestinian women prisoners. She is charged in the Israeli military courts – which convict over 99% of Palestinian detainees – with involvement in student activities on the Bir Zeit University campus. Her brother’s administrative detention has been renewed again and he continues to be jailed without charge or trial.
Mays’ family earlier spoke about their experience in being brought to see her under interrogation, noting that the signs of torture were visible on her face and body. “Her face was full of bruises and her body is very pale. I could not hug her due to the pain hurting all of her body,” said her mother. Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association convened a press conference on 23 December highlighting the torture and abuse of Palestinian prisoners, including Abu Ghosh.
Mays Abu Ghosh and Samah Jaradat are two of many Palestinian students who are being targeted by the Israeli occupation for arrest and imprisonment for their involvement in student activities on campus. Shatha Hassan, chair of the Bir Zeit University student council board, has been ordered to four months of administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. There are hundreds of Palestinian university students held in Israeli jails, including approximately 80 from Bir Zeit alone.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges the broadest possible action and mobilization to support Mays Abu Ghosh and Palestinian students jailed by the Israeli occupation forces. We urge students around the world to hold events, vigils and informational actions to highlight the struggle of Palestinian students under occupation and all people of conscience to develop the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Freedom for Mays Abu Ghosh and all Palestinian students!
Palestinian youth activist and organizer and human rights defender Hassan Karajah has been ordered to administrative detention – Israeli imprisonment without charge or trial – rather than being released at the end of his 16-month sentence. Karajah, 39, from the village of Saffa near Ramallah, has been imprisoned by the Israeli occupation forces since 11 September 2018.
After his arrest, he was denied access to a lawyer and held under harsh interrogation for nearly a month. At one point during his interrogation, on 9 October 2018, he was forced by armed Israeli soldiers to return to his family home as they came from the Moskobiyeh interrogation center and ransacked the property. He has repeatedly been jailed on charges related to his political and social activities and jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention.
He was jailed for 23 months after being arrested in 2013 on charges related to his political and social activity. After his release, he was re-arrested once again in July 2016 and ordered to administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. His detention was repeatedly extended for 16 months until he was released in November 2017.
Hassan Karajah is the father of twin daughters, Sarai and Kinza, born during his previous administrative detention. He was only allowed to see his daughters for the first time six months after their birth. His wife, Thameena Husary, said that shortly before her husband was scheduled to be released, he was instead ordered by the Ofer military court to administrative detention for four months, on the basis of so-called secret evidence.
Karajah is well-known internationally. An activist with the Stop the Wall Campaign, he was a member of the Arab Youth Forum and traveled to speak about the Palestinian cause, the struggle of Palestinian prisoners and the urgent need to defend Palestinian land from settlements and the apartheid wall. Indeed, he was targeted for traveling abroad, accused of “contact with an enemy state” during his 2013 arrest, a charge frequently used to target Palestinians who travel to Lebanon for Arab and international conferences and events.
Karajah is a trainer at the Handala cultural center in Saffa and director of its annual arts and cultural festival in the village. He is well known for his work in a number of civil society organizations, including the Stop the Wall Campaign and the Partnership for Development Project, and his advocacy for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
He is also involved in a grassroots project called Tijwal Safar, which organizes political tours in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and occupied Palestine ’48 of Palestinian villages, especially those threatened by Israeli land grabs, settlements and racist policies; operating under the slogan, “If you walk the land, you own it,” it has brought hundreds of Palestinians to targeted villages and farmland.
There are currently approximately 450 Palestinians held in administrative detention, of around 5,000 total Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails. These detention orders, introduced to Palestine by the British colonial mandate and then adopted by the Zionist project, are issued for up to six months at a time but are indefinitely renewable. Palestinians spend years at a time jailed under administrative detention. Fellow Palestinian prisoner and administrative detainee Ahmad Zahran is currently on his 103rd day of hunger strike against his imprisonment without charge or trial, demanding an end to the practice.
The use of administrative detention against prisoners whose sentences have been completed has escalated in recent years and has sparked several hunger strikes, including those of Bilal Kayed and Jafar Ezzedine. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges all supporters of Palestine to join the campaign to end administrative detention and build the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel for its violations of Palestinian rights, including the ongoing practice of administrative detention.
March in Ramallah in support of Ahmad Zahran, on hunger strike for 99 days
As hunger-striking Palestinian administrative detainee Ahmad Zahran entered his 99th day of hunger strike, demanding freedom from Israeli imprisonment without charge or trial, a leader in the Palestinian prisoners’ movement was transferred to collective isolation. Wael Jaghoub, the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s prison branch, was transferred from Ramon prison to collective isolation in Hadarim prison shortly following the PFLP prisoners’ statement that the leftist party would be mobilizing inside the prisons to demand freedom for Zahran, 42.
The Handala Center for Prisoners and Former Prisoners reported on Monday, 30 December that the PFLP prison branch said that Jaghoub’s isolation was “an integral part of the ongoing targeting of leaders and cadres of the Front inside and outside prison. It is a desperate attempt to disrupt the activities of the Front’s prison organization, especially as it launches a new, strategic battle in support of Comrade Zahran on hunger strike.” Specifically, they said that the isolation was a form of retaliation for Jaghoub’s refusal to meet with a delegate from the Shin Bet, the Israeli security agency, along with other leaders of Palestinian parties inside prisons.
A group of PFLP prisoners in Israeli jails announced that they will launch a one-day hunger strike on Tuesday, 31 December in support of Zahran. They urged wide support and solidarity for Zahran’s struggle as he nears 100 days of hunger strike. They emphasized that Jaghoub’s isolation will not deter their commitment to escalate the struggle inside prisons in support of Zahran and his strike for freedom.
Wael Jaghoub is serving a life sentence in Israeli prison for his role in the Palestinian resistance. He has writen two books and dozens of articles from his prison cell, especially those related to the Palestinian prisoners’ movement. In a new book, “Letters from the Prison Experience,” Jaghoub wrote about the struggle of the prisoners’ movement inside Israeli jails. He has been repeatedly subjected to isolation, denial of family visits and interrogation during his imprisonment.
Zahran, held in the Ramleh prison clinic, is unable to walk and has suffered from serious deterioration of his health and has lost over 30 kilograms (66 pounds) of weight since launching his strike. The military appeals court at Ofer prison has repeatedly delayed a decision on his appeal against the detention order.
From the village of Deir Abu Mishaal near Ramallah, Zahran previously conducted a 39-day hunger strike to secure his freedom from administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. Despite an agreement to end his hunger strike and release him, a new four-month administrative detention order was lodged against him, prompting Zahran to launch his current strike.
He has previously spent 15 years in Israeli prisons. He is the father of four children (Rusaylah, Reem, Omar and Yamen). His brother, Saleh, has served 17 years of a 20-year prison sentence and is held in Hadarim prison.
Also on 29 December, crowds of people marched in Ramallah in support of Zahran and his fellow Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails struggling for freedom. Participants carried banners highlighting Zahran’s strike and photos of many imprisoned Palestinians, including the student prisoners Shatha Hassan, president of the Bir Zeit Student Council Board, and Mays Abu Ghosh, journalism student at Bir Zeit.
Zahran is the latest Palestinian prisoner to wage a long-term hunger strike against administrative detention. Administrative detention orders are indefinitely renewable and can be issued for up to six months at a time. Palestinians have spent years in Israeli prison under these orders. Currently, around 450 of over 5,000 Palestinian political prisoners are detained under administrative detention orders, initially introduced to Palestine by the British colonial mandate and then adopted by the Zionist state.
Israel’s practice of administrative detention, which is used systematically to imprison Palestinians without charge or trial, comes in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and is also a form of psychological torture for the detainees and their families: They never know when and how they may be released, if ever.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network reiterates our full and unconditional solidarity with Ahmad Zahran and all Palestinian prisoners struggling for freedom. We urge all supporters of justice around the world to take a stand with Ahmad Zahran, whose life is on the line as he struggles to bring an end to administrative detention. International solidarity can be important to show Palestinian prisoners like Ahmad Zahran that they are not forgotten and to put pressure on the Israeli state – and the governments that support it – to support Zahran in achieving victory for justice and freedom.
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.
The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, issued a statement on 20 December 2019 that the ICC will be opening an official investigation into Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity in occupied Palestine. The announcement comes after years of Palestinian struggle for recognition and a fair hearing at the court, including the support of international legal organizations and advocates.
In particular, Khalida Jarrar, the imprisoned Palestinian leftist, feminist and legislator, has played a leading role in the campaign to hold Israeli officials accountable before the ICC. She participated in drafting Palestine’s application to join the ICC and has been a leading member of the Palestinian committee for presenting evidence to the ICC of Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity. On 31 October, Israeli occupation forces once again arrested Jarrar, a case that was featured in Human Rights Watch’s new report, “Born Without Civil Rights: Israel’s Use of Draconian Military Orders to Repress Palestinians in the West Bank.”
The Palestinian prisoners’ movement has repeatedly urged the ICC to take action on Palestine, as highlighted in this 2016 statement: “Fourth, we call upon the Palestinian Authority and the Prisoners’ Affairs Commission, and all national, legal and human rights organizations to raise the issue of the Palestinian prisoners at the International Criminal Court, the UN Human Rights Council, and the United Nations, in order to prosecute the occupation, and to expose its practices and daily violations of the rights of prisoners in Israeli jails.”
The move by the ICC comes just over a week after over 200 international organizations, including Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, signed on to a collective statement urging the court to end its delays and move forward with a formal investigation into Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The statement was delivered to the ICC in The Hague on 10 December, Human Rights Day, by representatives of The Rights Forum, the Dutch NGO that initiated the campaign. Among the signatory organizations are human rights organizations, trade unions, lawyers guilds, solidarity groups, religious institutions and other civil society organizations from 25 different countries. Large numbers of signatory organizations hail from Palestine, Germany, the USA, the Netherlands, Australia and France. The list also includes organizations from Malaysia, India, Japan, Lebanon and Nicaragua.
The ICC has been engaged in a preliminary investigation into the situation in Palestinefor almost five years, aiming to establish if criteria are met for an official, full-scale investigation into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity, committed in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The investigation should have led to a conclusion long ago.
The delay is not only inexplicable, it is also irresponsible. Absent an official investigation, Israel has been allowed to continue carrying out crimes with impunity. Most recently, on November 14th, over thirty Palestinians were killed in Gaza, many of them as a result of indiscriminate Israeli bombings. Among those killed were nine members of the same family, including five children. No wonder that – by stalling an official investigation – the ICC is in breach with its own mission, which it describes as follows:
The Court is participating in a global fight to end impunity, and through international criminal justice, the Court aims to hold those responsible accountable for their crimes and to help prevent these crimes from happening again.
The stalling of the ICC-investigation fits into a wider practice of inexplicable delays. A database of companies involved in Israel’s illegal colonization was mandated by the UN in March 2016, but has not been published to date. A similar database of companies involved with the Myanmar military regime was completed within a year and issued last September.
It seems obvious that holding Israel accountable for its crimes against the Palestinians requires a loud voice. Over the last years many organizations have called on the ICC to take action, notably in September 2018, when a coalition of 25 organizations urged Ms. Bensouda to finalize the preliminary investigation. None of these calls bore fruit. That is why The Rights Forum has now taken the initiative to build a coalition that cannot be ignored.
APPEAL FOR ACTION
International Criminal Court
To the attention of Ms. Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor
Oude Waalsdorperweg 10, The Hague, The Netherlands
Amsterdam, December 10th, 2019
Dear Ms. Bensouda,
Today, on Human Rights Day, the signatories of this letter call on you to open an official, full-scale investigation into the ‘situation in Palestine’ without further delay.
Since January 2015 the International Criminal Court (ICC) has been engaged in a preliminary investigation into the ‘situation in Palestine’, focusing on possible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Unfortunately, almost five years into the investigation, you have yet to reach a conclusion. This delay is inexplicable.
It is also irresponsible. As the preliminary investigation drags on, the crimes continue. The Israeli colonization of occupied lands – a war crime under the Rome Statute – comes with the systemic violation and abuse of the human rights of millions of Palestinians. The Israeli occupation continues to take Palestinian lives.
Concerning Gaza, you yourself have stated that the Israeli violence against Palestinian civilians could amount to war crimes, as could be the case for the violent activities of Palestinian groups. Nevertheless, we still witness Palestinian civilians being killed or wounded on a weekly basis.
The absence of an official investigation, this much is clear, has fueled the already existing culture of impunity. But it also affects the integrity and credibility of the ICC, and thereby the confidence of the public in a functioning legal order.
Over the last years, many have called on you to finalize the preliminary investigation. Among them human rights organizations, a broad civil delegation from Palestine, and Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki. In September 2018, 25 international organizations urged you to act. You did not respond.
That is why we repeat their call today, on Human Rights Day: Ms. Bensouda, open an official and full-scale investigation into the ‘situation in Palestine’ without further delay.
On behalf of the signatory organizations,
THE RIGHTS FORUM (NL) ÁBACOenRed (NI) ADDAMEER PRISONER SUPPORT AND HUMAN RIGHTS ASSOCIATION (PS) AIDOUN LEBANON (LB) AJPP – AUSTRALIANS FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE IN PALESTINE (AU) AK PALÄSTINA TÜBINGEN (DE) AL HAQ ORGANIZATION – DEFENDING HUMAN RIGHTS (PS) AL MEZAN CENTER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS (PS) AL-AWDA, THE PALESTINE RIGHT TO RETURN COALITION (US) ALDAMEER ASSOCIATION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS (PS) ALLIANCE FOR WATER JUSTICE IN PALESTINE (US) APPA – AUSTRALIAN PALESTINIAN PROFESSIONALS ASSOCIATION (AU) APPLIED RESEARCH INSTITUTE – JERUSALEM (PS) ARAB JEWISH PARTNERSHIP FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE IN THE MIDDLE EAST (US) ARBEITERFOTOGRAFIE, BUNDESVERBAND (DE) ARBEITSKREIS NAHOST – BERLIN (DE) ARBEITSKREIS NAHOST – BREMEN (DE) ARBEITSKREIS PALÄSTINA IM NÜRNBERGER EVANGELISCHEN FORUM FÜR DEN FRIEDEN (DE) ARTICLE 1 COLLECTIVE (NL) ASSOCIATION BELGO-PALESTINIENNE – WALLONIE/BRUXELLES (BE) ASSOCIATION FRANCE PALESTINE SOLIDARITÉ (FR) ATTAC ARBEITSGRUPPE GLOBALISIERUNG UND KRIEG (DE) AUSTRALIA PALESTINE ADVOCACY NETWORK (AU) AUSTRALIAN MANUFACTURING WORKERS UNION (AU) AUSTRALIANS FOR PALESTINE (AU) BADIL – RESOURCE CENTER FOR PALESTINIAN RESIDENCY AND REFUGEE RIGHTS (PS) BAY AREA WOMEN IN BLACK (US) BDS AUSTRALIA (AU) BDS BERLIN (DE) BDS JAPAN (JP) BDS MALAYSIA (MY) BDS SWITZERLAND (CH) BDS-GRUPPE BONN (DE) BELGIAN CAMPAIGN FOR THE ACADEMIC AND CULTURAL BOYCOTT OF ISRAEL (BE) BONNER NAKBA60-GRUPPE (DE) BOYCOTT FROM WITHIN – ISRAELI CITIZENS FOR BDS (IL) BRADFORD PALESTINE SOLIDARITY CAMPAIGN GROUP YORKSHIRE (UK) BROEDERLIJK DELEN (BE) BRYN MAWR PEACE COALITION (US) BÜNDNIS FÜR GERECHTIGKEIT ZWISCHEN ISRAELIS UND PALÄSTINENSER (DE) CAMBRIDGE BETHLEHEM PEOPLE TO PEOPLE PROJECT (US) CANADA PALESTINE ASSOCIATION (CAN) CANADIAN BDS COALITION (CAN) CANADIAN BOAT TO GAZA (CAN) CANADIAN UNITARIANS FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE (CAN) CANVA – CONSTRUIRE ET ALERTER PAR LA NON VIOLENCE ACTIVE (FR) CAPJPO EUROPALESTINE (FR) CDA MEMBERSHIP COUNCIL MIDDLE-EAST (NL) CJACP – COLLECTIF JUDÉO ARABE ET CITOYEN POUR LA PALESTINE (FR) CJPP – COALITION FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE IN PALESTINE – AUSTRALIA (AU) COALITION AGAINST ISRAELI APARTHEID VICTORIA (CAN) COALITION FOR JERUSALEM (PS) COLLECTIF URGENCE PALESTINE – VAUD (CH) COMMITTEE FOR A JUST PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST (LUX) COUNCIL OF PALESTINIAN POLITICAL FORCES (PS) DCI – DEFENSE FOR CHILDREN INTERNATIONAL – PALESTINE (PS) DE-COLONIZER (IL) DEUTSCHER KOORDINATIONSKREIS PALÄSTINE ISRAEL (DE) DEUTSCHES NETZWERK EAPPI (DE) DEUTSCH-PALÄSTINENSISCHE GESELLSCHAFT (DE) DEUTSCH-PALÄSTINENSISCHE MEDIZINISCHE GESELLSCHAFT (DE) DEUTSCH-PALÄSTINENSISCHER FRAUENVEREIN (DE) DOCP (NL) DOOPSGEZIND WERELDWERK WERKGROEP MIDDEN OOSTEN (NL) DUTCH SUPPORT GROUP OF THE INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY MOVEMENT (NL) EAJS – EEN ANDERE JOODSE STEM / ANOTHER JEWISH VOICE (BE) EDINBURGH ACTION FOR PALESTINE (UK) EEN ANDER JOODS GELUID (NL) ELDERS RISING (US) EUROPÄISCHE ALLIANZ ZUR VERTEIDIGUNG DER PALÄSTINENSISCHEN GEFANGENEN (DE) EUROPAL FORUM (UK) EUROPEAN LEGAL SUPPORT CENTER (NL) FACILITATE GLOBAL (UK) FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT TRADE UNIONS (PS) FINNISH-ARAB FRIENDSHIP SOCIETY (FI) FLÜCHTLINGSKINDER IM LIBANON (DE) FOOD SOVEREIGNTY ALLIANCE (IN) FRAUENNETZWERKNAHOST (DE) FREE GAZA – AUSTRALIA (AU) FREUNDE VON SABEEL DEUTSCHLAND (DE) FRIENDS OF SABEEL – AUSTRALIA (AU) FUPECG – FUNDACIÓN PEDAGÓGICA COOPERACIÓN GENUINA (NI) GAIC – GROUPE D’AMITIÉ ISLAMO CHRÉTIENNE (FR) GATE48 – CRITICAL ISRAELIS IN THE NETHERLANDS (NL) GENERAL UNION OF PALESTINIAN TEACHERS (PS) GENERAL UNION OF PALESTINIAN WOMEN (PS) GENERAL UNION OF PALESTINIAN WORKERS (PS) GENTS ACTIEPLATFORM PALESTINA (BE) GIBANJE ZA PRAVICE PALESTINCEV (SI) GLOBAL PALESTINE RIGHT OF RETURN COALITION (PS) GLOBAL WOMEN COALITION FOR AL QUDS AND PALESTINE (MY) GRASSROOTS PALESTINIAN ANTI-APARTHEID WALL CAMPAIGN (STOP THE WALL) (PS) GREEN MOUNTAIN SOLIDARITY WITH PALESTINE (US) HAAGS VREDESPLATFORM (NL) HILTON HEAD FOR PEACE (US) HURRYYAT – CENTER FOR DEFENSE OF LIBERTIES AND CIVIL RIGHTS (PS) ICAHD FINLAND 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FARMERS UNION (PS) PALESTINIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS COUNCIL (PS) PALESTINIAN NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF NGOS (PS) PALESTINIAN UNION OF POSTAL, IT AND TELECOMMUNICATION WORKERS (PS) PAX CHRISTI AUSTRALIA (AU) PAX CHRISTI FRANCE (FR) PAX CHRISTI, DEUTSCHE SEKTION (DE) PAX CHRISTI, DIÖZESANVERBAND AUGSBURG (DE) PCG – PALESTINIAN COMMUNITY GERMANY (DE) PCHR – PALESTINIAN CENTRE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS (PS) PLATE-FORME CHARLEROI-PALESTINE (BE) PLATEFORME DES ONG FRANÇAISES POUR LA PALESTINE (FR) PNGO – PALESTINIAN NGO NETWORK (PS) PSCC – POPULAR STRUGGLE COORDINATION COMMITTEE (PS) QUAKER PEACE AND LEGISLATION COMMITTEE (AU) RACHEL CORRIE FOUNDATION FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE (US) RAMALLAH CENTER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS STUDIES (PS) RELIGIONS FOR PEACE NETHERLANDS (NL) ROOTSACTION.ORG (US) ROSE2ROSE (MY) RUMBO A GAZA (ES) SALAMSHALOM ARBEITSKREIS ISRAEL-PALÄSTINA – MÜNCHEN (DE) SAMIDOUN PALESTINIAN PRISONER SOLIDARITY NETWORK (INT) SCOTTISH FRIENDS OF PALESTINE (UK) SEAMAC – SEATTLE MIDEAST AWARENESS CAMPAIGN (US) SHIP TO GAZA NORWAY (NO) SLOVAK INITIATIVE FOR A JUST PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST (SK) SOLIDARITÄT INTERNATIONAL (DE) SOLIDARITY WITH PALESTINE – ST. 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(DE) WESPAC FOUNDATION (US) WOMEN CAMPAIGN TO BOYCOTT ISRAELI PRODUCTS (PS) WOMEN FOR PALESTINE (AU) WOMEN IN BLACK – VIENNA (AT) WORLD BEYOND WAR (INT)
Khalida Jarrar is a leading Palestinian activist for women’s rights and prisoners’ rights. She is a socialist MP elected to the Palestinian Authority’s moribund legislative council, as part of the Marxist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
All of this makes her an enemy in the eyes of Israel’s cruel and vindictive military occupation. The Israeli torture regime has had Jarrar in and out of prison for years now, with neither charge nor trial. Her latest “arrest” occurred last week when cowardly Israeli army thugs broke into her Ramallah home, in the occupied West Bank, and took her away at gunpoint.
Reading the latest update from her daughter Yafa, it is clear that Israel is imposing sleep deprivation on her, which is a common torture technique used by imperialist regimes and petty dictatorships the world over. “Mom appeared to be fatigued and exhausted from sleep deprivation,” she writes, relaying what her father saw for the brief few seconds he was allowed into Israel’s kangaroo court before the illegitimate military “judge” — in reality an army officer; for many years these fake judges did not have even the most basic legal training — sent Khalida Jarrar to prison. “She is still wearing the same clothes that she had on the night of her arrest,” says Yafa.
Now Jarrar is being held in isolation. This is nothing new for her. She was arrested arbitrarily and interned by Israel in 2015 and 2017. The whole nature of the terminology employed by Israel makes it sound legitimate — arrest, court, judge — when, in fact, it is entirely illegitimate. If actual legal processes were used, then arrest would be followed by charges, a proper trial and only then, if found guilty, a conviction.
The more accurate term to describe Jarrar’s “arrest”, therefore, would be “kidnapping”. For Palestinians Israel provides no semblance of a judicial system; justice has no role in the process. Instead, it implements a racist injustice system; one designed specifically to punish Palestinians for their very existence.
For example, Israel has a law on its books with allows it to intern Palestinians without charge or trial on the basis of so-called “secret evidence”. The law is a remnant of the British military occupation period, which ended in 1948. Under this law, internment without charge or trial – without any real evidence – is called “administrative detention”, a cruel euphemism if there ever was one.
It is essentially a system of summary military internment designed for use in wartime conditions, but Israel has enacted it on a permanent basis. It has been applied to Palestinians living under Israel’s brutal occupation for more than 71 years. From 1948 to 1966, Israel imposed this arbitrary military dictatorship on all Palestinian communities that remained within the new “state of Israel”, even after the majority had been driven out by Zionist militias, terrorist gangs and the nascent Israeli army between 1947 and 1949. Post-1967 up until today, the so-called “only democracy in the Middle East” imposes this military dictatorship on the Palestinians of the occupied West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza Strip.
Israel is, by any standard, a racist, torture regime. It is important to emphasise that Israel’s military regime is a specifically racist one because, almost without exception, these military laws are applied to Palestinians only.
There are, in fact, two parallel legal systems operating under the Israeli regime in the West Bank. There is a civilian system which gives suspects the right to have a lawyer, due process and the usual standards of evidence, but it is for Israeli Jews only, and is denied to Palestinians purely and simply because they are not Jewish. The other is Israel’s system of military injustice, which has a 99.7 per cent conviction rate, and is applied to Palestinians alone. These parallel legal systems are the very embodiment of the Afrikaner word apartheid: “separateness”.
This is not some temporary, necessary condition of war. Military regulations, after all, are necessary under genuine conditions of defensive war, such as when Nazi Germany was bombing Britain during World War Two. Israel’s military regime is instead designed as a permanent, colonial system to oppress Palestine’s indigenous people indefinitely. It is intended to punish them simply for being Palestinians, with the objective that their lives will be made so miserable and difficult that they will leave their own land voluntarily.
This is a forlorn hope. The Palestinians have resisted this settler-colonial oppression for more than 120 years now, and will continue to so do for as long as they are denied their most basic rights.
Jarrar’s family is emphasising that international pressure on Israel can make a real difference, and could help her to be released. The Palestinian prisoners’ solidarity group Samidoun is calling for action and has suggested some ways that people can take part in the campaign to free Khalida Jarrar. The best and most effective thing, though, would be to end the brutal Israeli occupation now.