UN: Israel’s demolitions, displacement of Palestinians at highest level in seven years

Palestinian men watch the demolition of a Palestinian house at the order of the Israeli army, west of Hebron January 21, 2016.

Palestinian men watch the demolition of a Palestinian house at the order of the Israeli army, west of Hebron January 21, 2016

Israeli occupation forces demolished 41 structures in Khirbet Tana near Nablus on Wednesday, according to a UN statement on March 4.

The demolition displaced ten families with 36 members, including 11 children, and affected the livelihoods of five additional families.

The demolished structures included a dozen donated as humanitarian assistance, and one of the destroyed structures had served as an elementary school for nine students. Israeli authorities had destroyed the community’s original school in 2011.

Khirbet Tana is located within an Israeli-imposed ‘firing zone’, where the occupation forces conduct training exercises. Palestinian residents are thus denied building permits and are often subject to “waves of demolitions”, according to the UN.

Some 18 percent of the Occupied West Bank has been declared a ‘firing zone’ by the Israeli army, with 38 Palestinian communities located within these areas.

Since the beginning of 2016, Israeli occupation forces have destroyed or dismantled 323 homes and other structures across the West Bank, displacing 440 – more than half of whom were children.

A further 1,700 Palestinians lost structures related to their sources of income, while a third of the targeted structures were provided as humanitarian assistance. According to the UN, “these are some of the highest levels of demolition and displacement recorded in a similar time frame since 2009.”

In February, senior UN official Robert Piper, urged a halt to the demolitions. While most demolitions take place on the “spurious legal grounds that Palestinians do not possess building permits”, Piper said, “only 1.5 per cent of Palestinian permit applications are approved” by the Israeli authorities.

Israeli NGO B’Tselem similarly warned last month that Israel has “stepped up efforts to expel Palestinian communities from vast areas in the West Bank.”

(Source / 06.03.2016)

More than 7,700 Palestinians inside Israeli jails

This number shows an annual increase by 87 per cent compared with 2015

More than 7,700 Palestinians are currently imprisoned by Israeli occupation authorities, Military Court Watch (MCW) reported on Sunday.

MCW said that 423 Palestinian children are included in this number, noting that most of the prisoners are being held in Israeli facilities in violation of the 4th Geneva Convention

Days of Palestine, Jerusalem –More than 7,700 Palestinians are currently imprisoned by Israeli occupation authorities, Military Court Watch (MCW) reported on Sunday.

According to the Israeli Prison Service (IPS), as of 31 January 2016, there were 7,766 Palestinians, from the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

MCW said that 423 Palestinian children are included in this number, noting that most of the prisoners are being held in Israeli facilities in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The human rights organisation also said that this number shows an annual increase by 87 per cent compared with 2015.

In addition, it stated that these figures include two children held under the illegal administrative detention.

It is worth mentioning that the Israeli occupation forces carry out arrest campaign against Palestinian citizens almost every night across the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem.

Sometimes, they arrest Palestinian travelers at the hundreds of the military checkpoints scattered across the occupied West Bank or from Gaza at the Erez Crossing.

(Source / 06.03.2016)

OIC’s summit on Palestine kicks off in Jakarta

JAKARTA, (PIC)– The Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) extraordinary summit on Palestine and Jerusalem kicked off on Sunday in the Indonesian capital Jakarta with the participation of leaders and officials from around the world. Convened under the theme “United for a Just Solution,” the summit is a response to the urgent and persistent worrying situation in Palestine and Jerusalem, which affects not only the Palestinian people, but also the entire Muslim nation. In addition to many important issues to be discussed on Palestine during the two-day summit, the conferees will explore methods and strategies to encounter the Israeli government’s continuous illegal occupation and apartheid policies in the occupied Palestinian territories.

(Source / 06.03.2016)

Hamas blasts Fatah comments about ‘retaking’ Gaza

PA president Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Meshaal, leader of Hamas

PA president Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Meshaal, leader of Hamas

Palestinian resistance group Hamas on Saturday blasted statements made by the Fatah movement’s revolutionary council in which it said it was mulling its “options” to retake the Hamas-run Gaza Strip in the event that upcoming reconciliation talks between the two groups fail.

“Fatah’s threats to ‘retake’ Gaza betray the truth of its intentions,” Hamas said in a statement.

Hamas went on to urge Fatah, which leads the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA), to “leave custodianship [of the Gaza Strip] up to the Palestinian people, respect election results, and adopt the principle of partnership”.

On Friday, Fatah’s revolutionary council stated that – should upcoming reconciliation talks in Doha between the two groups fail – “other options” for retaking the strip from Hamas would be considered.

In mid-2007, two years after Israeli forces withdrew from the Gaza Strip and one year after Hamas swept Palestinian legislative polls, clashes erupted in the territory between the two groups.

The clashes ended with Fatah’s total defeat and the establishment of de facto Hamas rule throughout the coastal enclave.

Ever since, Hamas has accused Fatah – which administers the Israeli-occupied West Bank through the PA – of attempting to undermine its control of the Gaza Strip.

The differences between the two groups are largely ideological.

Islamist Hamas supports armed resistance against Israel and demands the return of all of historical Palestine. Secular Fatah, for its part, insists on negotiating with the Jewish state – even though previous peace talks have failed to produce any breakthroughs.

In April of 2014, Hamas and Fatah signed a “reconciliation” agreement, which led to the formation of a Palestinian unity government two months later.

The Ramallah-based unity government, however, has yet to assume formal control of the Gaza Strip due to ongoing differences between the two movements.

(Source / 06.03.2016)

Egypt accuses Hamas, Brotherhood of assassinating prosecutor

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Forensic detectives gather at the site of a bomb that targeted the convoy of the Egyptian state prosecutor, Hisham Barakat, in Cairo on June 29, 2015

CAIRO: Egypt has accused exiled Muslim Brotherhood officials of conspiring with Gaza-based Hamas militants to assassinate Public Prosecutor Hisham Barakat last year and arrested 14 people in connection with the attack.
Barakat, 64, was killed by a car bomb in Cairo in June 2015. He was the most senior state official assassinated since the toppling in mid-2013 of elected president Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood. There was no claim of responsibility for the attack at the time.
Interior Ministry Magdi Abdel Ghaffar told a news conference that the attack was ordered by Turkey-based leaders of Egypt’s oldest Islamist movement and coordinated with Hamas. He accused Hamas of helping to provide training and explosives.
He said the authorities had arrested 48 members of a Muslim Brotherhood cell aimed at undermining security through a series of attacks. Fourteen of them had confessed to killing Barakat.
“This is a very big conspiracy that started a long time ago and continued,” he said.
A judicial source told Reuters on Sunday that six people had been arrested for Barakat’s murder. The official MENA news agency reported that those arrested were suspects in several acts of “terrorism, possessing and using explosives, and joining a terrorist group.”
Judges and other senior officials have been targeted by radical Islamists since then-military chief Abdel Fattah El-Sisi ousted Mursi after mass protests against his rule.
Sissi, who went on to win a presidential election the next year, banned the Brotherhood and jailed thousands of its followers. Security forces killed hundreds of Mursi supporters in a single day in the bloodiest episode in Egypt’s modern history.
The Egyptian judiciary says it is independent of the government and military, but some judges have been accused of bias after handing down lengthy jail terms and mass death sentences.
The crackdown, which has included restrictions on freedom of protest, has angered many opponents of Sissi who has struggled to suppress an insurgency that is raging in the Sinai Peninsula which borders Hamas-controlled Gaza.
The attack last June cast doubt on Egypt’s ability to contain an Islamist insurgency based in Sinai that has killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers since Sissi took over. The Brotherhood has been banned and designated as a terrorist organization. The group says it rejects violence.
The most active militant group is Sinai Province, which has pledged allegiance to Islamic State, the jihadist group that has seized control of significant areas of Iraq and Syria.

(Source / 06.03.2016)

Hundreds attend funeral of Palestinian woman killed by the IOF, Friday

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On Friday evening, Palestinians in the village of Husan mourned the death of 34-year-old Amani Husni Sabatin who was shot dead earlier in the day after allegedly ramming her car into an Israeli soldier at the Gush Etzion junction.

According to Sabatin’s family, the Israeli occupation authorities returned her body shortly after she was killed. The Red Crescent team then took her body to Beit Jala Hospital for autopsy.

A funeral procession started from the hospital to Sabatin’s hometown, west of Bethlehem, where hundreds of people were present. She was then buried in the Husan’s cemetery following funeral prayers.

While speaking to the press, the head of Husan’s village council, Hasan Hamamreh, rejected the IOF’s allegations that Sabatin had attempted to carry out an attack, saying her death was an “obvious execution.”

The Gush Etzion illegal junction has been the site of multiple stabbing and shooting operatives since October last year.

The current tension situation is ongoing since October first 2015, due to repetitive Israeli settler attacks on Al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest place in Islam, and Israeli restrictions over Palestinian entrance, in addition to the Duma arson attack which killed a baby and his parents on July, 31.

Moreover, the IOF has been criticized internationally in recent months for its ‘preemptive shootings’ of Palestinians alleged to be holding knives.

In addition several of the incidents in which the IOF has claimed that they were ‘attacked’ have proven to be false.

Since then, over 180 Palestinians have been killed. More than 15,000 Palestinians have been injured by IOF live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets and teargas.

Some 29 settlers were killed on the Israeli side in Palestinian operatives.

(Source / 06.03.2016)

Mossad touts cyberwar against BDS

By Asa Winstanley

Asa WinstanleyAsa Winstanley

At a cyberwar forum in Tel Aviv in January, it came out that Israel has allocated almost $26 million in this year’s budget to fight the ever-growing movement to boycott, divest from and sanctions Israel – BDS for short.

An Associated Press report on the event quoted one high Israeli official as saying that she wanted “to create a community of fighters” against BDS in the online world.

That little snippet of cyber-sabre-rattling came from Sima Vaknin-Gil, the director general of Israel’s Ministry for Strategic Affairs (the former chief military censor of the press in Israel). The head of this ministry is Gilad Erdan, last year crowned the “BDS minister” by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The forum was aimed at Israeli tech developers, the AP reports. “Initiatives are largely being kept covert,” it elaborated. “Participants at the invite-only forum, held on the sidelines of a cyber technology conference, repeatedly stood up to remind people that journalists were in the room.”

It also makes clear that the new push is, in part, the work of Mossad, Israel’s overseas spy agency.

Mossad has a long history of carrying out kidnappings, assassinations and other terrorist acts against its enemies, especially against Palestinian activists, leaders and fighters. Only last week the Mossad murdered former Palestinian prisoner Omar Nayef Zayed, according to his family. The escaped political prisoner had lived peacefully in exile in Bulgaria since the late 1990s.

A portion of these millions of new anti-BDS dollars are to be given to Israeli high-tech firms to fight BDS online, said the report, although (as ever) specifics are hazy.

Two “former military intelligence officers” told AP they had created a company which would “collect intelligence on BDS organizations in Europe… the US, and South America” and that the aim was “to dismantle the infrastructure of groups… responsible for incitement and anti-Semitism against Israel.” But of course, “he declined to give specifics.”

Quite how online tools can “dismantle” real life groups of friends and comrades is something of a mystery. It is likely to remain Israeli wishful thinking.

Also present at this little soirée was Adam Milstein, a fanatically anti-Palestinain Israeli-American real estate mogul, and convicted tax fraudster (Israeli diplomats wrote to a US federal judge seeking a more lenient sentence).

All of this tells us two things.

Firstly: Israel cannot shake its addiction to war. As with all its dealings, it resorts to war, and war-like rhetoric, at every turn. Hence the declaration of “war” against BDS, a completely non-violent movement of committed volunteer activists who seek nothing more than Palestinian equality, freedom and right of return for refugees.

The picture painted by the participants in this cyberwarfare forum that talked to the AP is that it is not a real grassroots movement, but some sort of foreign conspiracy with no real depth.

One Israeli foreign ministry official who spoke to AP blames “second- and third-generation Muslims in Europe and the US who have grievances against the West and also lead online campaigns against European and US governments” – an attempt to falsely portray the issue as one of religious hatreds rather than one of universal human rights.

He claimed that BDS activists “often create code that allows activists to blast thousands of messages from social media accounts — creating the illusion that many protesters are sharing the same anti-Israel or anti-West message online.”

But in reality this is no “illusion” – Israel simply refuses to face the fact that it actions are hated by vast majorities of people around the world. Most people are not generally fans of war crimes and racism. Poll after poll bares out Israel’s global unpopularity.

As long as Israel fails to face up to this, its schemes to combat BDS will continue to fail. Israel is fighting a phantom: it has built up an imaginary enemy. What does exists is a popular global grassroots movement which can’t be defeated by silly online tricks.

The second thing to remember here is that Israel’s claims to have skills in cyber crime (or “world-leading expertise in cyber security” as the AP gushes) are wildly over-hyped.

While there is no doubt that Israel is involved in things like sabotage of BDS activists’ online capabilities, such strategies are akin to putting a finger in the dam. They will at best delay things for very short periods.

As Omar Barghouti, a BDS movement leader, told AP: “‘quite a few web pages’ that BDS websites linked to have mysteriously disappeared from the Internet. ‘We assume Israel’s cyber sabotage is ongoing, but we are quite pleased that its detrimental impact on the global BDS movement has been dismal so far.'”

Israel likes to engage in exaggeration, intimidation and psychological warfare against its enemies. There are many historical examples of this, such as the the loud-speakers that Zionist terrorist organizations drove around Palestinian villages announcing that their war crimes (massacres and rapes) against Palestinian civilians were worse than they in fact were, in order to scare terrified unarmed Palestinians into fleeing.

For years, Israel has liked to portray an image of technical sophistication in cyberwarfare, with its participation in the “Stuxnet” virus that sabotaged Iranian nuclear power facilities being held up as a prime example.

While there’s no doubting that Israel has capabilities in this arena, its role is exaggerated, often for its own propaganda purposes. As I reported back in 2012, it seems far more likely that Stuxnet was primarily created by the US (under Bush and later Obama) to attack Iran – Israel was merely a junior partner, and was even responsible for messing up the sabotage operation (dubbed “Olympic Games”), ensuring it ended earlier than expected.

Further reports on a follow-up operation to Olympic Games (a contingency plan dubbed “Nitro Zeus”) emerged in February, with the première of a new documentary film called Zero Days. These revelations have confirmed my 2012 analysis.

“According to the claims in the film, the hasty Israeli action prevented the carrying out of a number of further planned actions that were intended to sabotage computers at a second, more fortified uranium enrichment facility,” reported one Israeli journalist.

There’s reason to be highly sceptical about such self-aggrandising claims that the Mossad and its allies, proxies and affiliates clearly intend for the press to “leak.” It is highly likely that such claims are intended to wage similar psychological warfare against BDS activists.

Be aware, but don’t be intimidated. We have right on our side, they have only money, oppression and state power.

(Source / 06.03.2016)

IOF banned 28 Palestinians of travel last week

BETHLEHEM, (PIC)– Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) banned last week 28 Palestinians from travel via the Karama crossing connecting the West Bank to the outside world through Jordan. The IOF claimed that the travel ban orders were made for security reasons.  The Palestinian police in Ramallah said, in a statement on Saturday, that 25,000 Palestinians used the Karama crossing for travel last week.  Israeli forces did not release the reasons behind the ban of entry orders, the Palestinian police statement pointed out.

(Source / 06.03.2016)

Ethnic cleansing of Shuhada Street in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron)

Since the 1994 Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre, the majority of Shuhada Street – once the thriving Palestinian market and main thoroughfare connecting north and south al-Khalil (Hebron) – has been closed to Palestinians. They are completely barred from accessing it, except for a small stretch in the Tel Rumeida neighbourhood.

Shuhada st split

Photos of the same portion of Shuhada street – a thriving market before 1994, now an empty street where no Palestinians are allowed to enter

This tiny strip that is legally still accessible for Palestinians is restricted by the recently ‘renovated’ Shuhada checkpoint at the beginning of the street and ends where the street begins to border the illegal settlement of Beit Hadassah, beyond which Israeli forces assure that no Palestinians exist. Further down Shuhada street, clearly marked with yet another military post barring anyone who might attempt to enter the street, are even more Israeli settlements – all illegal under international law – located directly in the city center of al-Khalil.

The settlements on Shuhada Street are connected via a settler-only road to the much larger settlement of Kiryat Arba on the outskirts of al-Khalil; settlers can also reach the illegal Tel Rumeida settlement easily by traversing the tiny stretch of Shuhada Street still open to some Palestinians and the road leading up into Tel Rumeida from Shuhada checkpoint, now encompassed within the closed military zone. While Palestinians are allowed to walk on this part of Shuhada Street, Palestinian vehicles, including ambulances, are forbidden from driving there. Since Israeli authorities declared the area part of a closed military zone on 1stNovember 2015, the already barely existent access has been further restricted – Isreali forces only allow entry to Palestinians registered with them residents, while any Israeli settler, regardless of whether they are residents or not, can pass freely and without ever being harassed, stopped, detained, arrested, or threatened by the ever-present military forces.

Map of the city center of al-Khalil with Shuhada Street Credit: B'Tselem

At the line demarcated by Daboya checkpoint (Checkpoint 55), where the illegal settlements on the street begin and Palestinians are no longer allowed, a steep flight of stairs leads up to Qurtuba school and into the Tel Rumeida neighbourhood. These stairs, the only way for Palestinians to continue traveling in the same direction above the street as they are not allowed to continue down Shuhada Street itself, have been closed by the Israeli forces with a metal gate since November 2015.

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Stairs with the closed gate leading down to Shuhada Street

Even though this gate is currently not locked, Israeli forces deny any Palestinian, except for the students and teachers of Qurtuba school during school-time, to use these stairs. As a result Palestinian residents of this neighbourhood, once they have passed Shuhada checkpoint – an ordeal that can take several hours – have been denied to reach their homes by walking down Shuhada Street and the stairs leading up to Qurtuba school, forcing them instead to take a much longer detour around. With yet another way denied for Palestinans, navigating the maze of Israeli military-enforced checkpoints, complete bans on travel, roads where Palestinians cannot drive, settler-only roads, closed military zones and new arbitrary closures has become even more arduous.

Israeli forces are thereby also clearly working to minimise the number of Palestinians who will actually use this last portion of Shuhada Street – now a complete dead-end – as they bar Palestinians not only from going farther down the closed street but also declare the stairs, formerly an alternate route, yet another closed zone. This illustrates the Israeli attempts to rid Shuhada Street entirely of Palestinians. Ethnic cleansing in al-Khalil, and all across Israeli-occupied Palestinian lands is not a sudden, headline-grabbing event; it progresses gradually as Palestinians are restricted in certain areas, barred from driving there, prohibited from even being there, forced out to facilitate the expansion of the illegal settlements. Ethnic cleansing happens slowly, by erecting new and ‘fortifying’ existing checkpoints, advancing one more closure at a time.

(Source / 06.03.2016)

February 2015 report: 616 Palestinians arrested by occupation forces

The following report was issued by the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, Addameer and Prisoners’ Affairs Committee, on arrests and detentions of Palestinians in February 2016. Translated from Arabic. Click here for the Arabic original. 

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In a joint report, three Palestinian institutions: the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, and the Prisoners’ Affairs Committee – said that the Israeli occupation authorities arrested 616 Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza in February 2016. This number includes 140 children and 18 women and girls. The number of arrests since the beginning of the popular uprising in October 2015 has exceeded 4,120.

The report further stated that the highest percentage of arrests took place in Jerusalem governorate, of 158 Palestinians, followed by 125 arrested in al-Khalil, 70 in Nablus, 68 in Ramallah and al-Bireh, 65 in Jenin, 58 in Bethlehem, 31 in Tulkarem. 22 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip were arrested, 13 from Jericho, 11 from Salfit, 10 from Qalqilya and five from Tubas.

161 administrative detention orders for imprisonment without charge or trial were issued in February; 92 of these were new administrative detention orders. Four of these were issued against Palestinians from Jerusalem, and one for a woman, Sana Nayef of al-Khalil. There are now approximately 750 Palestinians held without charge or trial under administrative detention in Israeli jails.

The number of female prisoners rose to 62, among them 14 minors. The total number of child prisoners is approximately 400; approximately 700 prisoners are ill and require medical care.

Administrative detention

Administrative detention affects the various sectors of the Palestinian people: minors, women, parliamentarians, politicians, academics, activists, all detained by the occupation without charge and on the basis of a “secret file” that neither the detainee nor their lawyer may access. Mahmoud Al-Fasfous, 25, an administrative detainee from al-Khalil, has declared an open hunger strike and rejected medical treatment since 20 February 2016 to protest his administrative detention; he has been held unser administrative detention since 30 October 2014 and four administrative detention orders have been issued against him. He previously spent six years in Israeli prisons, and suffered severe torture during interrogation, which led to skull and jaw injuries and stomach ulcers.

Individual hunger strikes

A number of prisoners carried out hunger strikes in February for various reasons; some continued hunger strikes begun in past months, mot notably the imprisoned journalist Mohammed al-Qeeq, 33, from al-Khalil, who waged a 94-day hunger strike in protest of his administrative detention, and ended with an agreement to release him on 21 May, provide medical treatment at a hospital inside 1948 occupied Palestine and allow family visits during that time.

Akram Zahra, a Jordanian prisoner, waged a 12-day hunger strike demanding his release and transfer to Jordan after he remained imprisoned by occupation authorities following the expiration of his sentence; he was released to Jordan.

Rabie Jibril of Bethlehem engaged in a hunger strike for several days demanding medical treatment and an end to administrative detention; he suspended the strike after an agreement to receive medical treatment. Mohammed al-Muhr of Jenin carried out a hunger strike for reportedly 51 days, which was suspended after his transfer to hospital.

A number of prisoners carried out individual strikes in solidarity with Mohammed al-Qeeq for several days before he ended his strike.

House arrest: Israeli weapon against childhood in Jerusalem

Each year, Israeli occupation courts in Jerusalem issue dozens of orders for house arrest of Jerusalemite children for various long periods, which prevent a child from leaving their home except in emergency circumstances such as going to the hospital, accompanied by a guardian, which deprives the child from playing and interacting with their surroundings in full, creating deleterious psychological effects, and transforming parents into jailers for their children. Over 60 house-arrest decisions were issued against Jerusalemite minors in 2015.

In a particularly dangerous precedent not only for children but for Palestinian women, an order of house arrest was made against the child Milad Musa Salah-al-Din, 16, of Hizma in Jerusalem, on the condition that his mother be imprisoned with him for two months. Both are threatened with a 20,000 NIS fine if either of them leaves the home. This comes after he was imprisoned for 25 days, accused of throwing stones, and his family paid a fine of 10,000 NIS. His mother is prohibited from teaching at her job as a school teacher.
Solitary confinement

16 prisoners are held in solitary confinement under the pretext of “security reasons,” the longest-held being Abdul Rahman Osman, who has been in isolation since 10 March 2013, a year after the end of the Karameh hunger strike in 2012. Isolated prisoners are held in Megiddo, Ashkelon, Eshel, Nafha, Ramon, Ayalon, and Nitzan prisons, in dedicated isolation sections in cruel and inhumane conditions. Isolation and solitary confinement is a form of psychological torture, which is prohibited by Article 1 of the Convention Against Torture, which forbids inhuman and degrading treatment and the infliction of mental suffering. The Israel Prison Service uses its policy of isolation as a punitive measure against prisoners, and especially leaders, in order to undermine stability and deprive them of their right to communicate with the outside world and receive family visits.

One isolated Palestinian prisoner is Shukri al-Khawaja, who was harshly interrogated for 50 days in the “Russian compound” interrogation center. After interrogation he was transferred to Ofer prison and on 17 December 2014 he was ordered into solitary confinement “for security reasons” for a one-month renewable order. He was moved to the isolation cells of Ayalon prison. In June 2015, he was isolated for six months ending in December 2015, which was then renewed for another six months.

On the isolation conditions in Ayalon prison, Khawaja says that the room is a 3 x 3 meter space, contains a toilet and a bath, the mattress is 2 cm thick. There is a small refrigerator, a burner for coffee and a cooker, two small clothes racks and a television. He is allowed out of the room for two hours each day into a 3 by 6 meter yard area. Khawaja adds, “The most difficult thing about isolation is being alone and thinking about my family, especially since I am denied visits and do not know their news. This is the greatest torment.”

Assaults and abuse of prisoners in custody

Occupation forces used ill-treatment, torture and inhumane and degrading treatment during arrests and beyond, as a systematic means of making arrest a form of collective punishment and spread fear and intimidation and cause greater harm to the prisoner and their family. The testimonies of a number of prisoners indicate the practice of torture and beatings from the first moment of arrest. Mahmoud Musa Salem, 18, from Bethlehem, was beaten by undercover forces arresting him, beating him all over his body and injuring his face and eye area, breaking his left hand and nose.

Salem says, “The undercover forces beat me when arresting me, they grabbed my hands, and then the undercover dressed to appear ‘Arab’ hit me in my eyes, another hit me in the nose, then threw me on the ground and kicked me in the head and all over my body, after which 4 beat me again before putting me in the jeep.

Torture and detention of family members to pressure the detainee

Despite the absolute international prohibition of torture in international conventions and laws, which clearly and explicitly define torture as “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him, or a third person, information or a confession…” occupation forces continue to use torture and have consistently done so, whether through lengthy hours of interrogations, sleep deprivation, stress positions and denial of access to a lawyer, or by placing a prisoner in a detention center lacking the minimum elements to support human life, and carrying out in some cases arrests of members of prisoners’ families in order to increase the pressure on the detainee. Many prisoners have confirmed that they were tortured in detention centers by occupation forces and that the occupation authorities continue to use harsh methods of torture and ill-treatment extending beyond the interrogation period.

Israeli forces arrested a number of members of the family of the prisoner Ibrahim al-‘Arouj of Bethlehem, while being held in the Russian Compound detention center, including his wife, Rabaa, who was held in the Russian Compound for 20 days, and two of his brothers, Ibrahim and Jaafar, who were then transferred to administrative detention.

Al-Arouj was tortured during interrogation. During the visit of his lawyer at the Russian Compound, he said that he had been under interrogation for eight days, deprived of sleep. He as transferred to an interrogation room, where he was handcuffed to a plastic chair. This lasted for two days of intense interrogation, during which he was held in various stress positions sitting and standing, leading to intensifying pain, exhaustion and fatigue, as well as ongoing sleep deprivation and verbal abuse.

Ibrahim al-‘Arouj was arrested on 13 March 2014 and was awaiting trial but was returned to the Russian Compound interrogation center on 21 January 2016.

(Source / 06.03.2016)