[News] Palestine: 2004 Worst for Prisoners in 30 Years

News at freedomarchives.org News at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jan 4 08:46:03 EST 2005

2004 Worst for Prisoners in 30 Years: Detention conditions inside Israeli 
occupation jails deteriorated to a level never seen in 30 years


GAZA, Palestine, January 3, 2005 (IPC + WAFA) - -

The Palestinian Ministry of (political) Prisoners and Ex-Detainees Affairs 
considered on Sunday that 2004 was the worst year for Palestinian 
prisoners, as detention conditions inside Israeli jails deteriorated to a 
level never seen in 30 years.

A report issued by the ministry's information department indicated that the 
year 2004 witnessed fierce attacks inside Israeli jails that reached all 
prisoner categories, pointing out that the most dangerous measure Israeli 
authorities attempted was to label those prisoners as terrorists, and treat 
them in the same way as Guantanamo prisoners in order to strip them of 
international sympathy.

The report pointed out that the Israeli government has given the 
administration of prisons to radical military generals who deal with the 
prisoners in an absolute military sense, leading to the increase of 
oppression, persecution and aggression against those prisoners.

Mr. Riyadh Al Ashqar, director of the information department, said that 
since 1967 more than half a million Palestinian prisoners have been 
imprisoned in Israeli jails.

"Since Al Aqsa Intifada, Israeli occupation forces arrested about 35 
thousand prisoners, eight thousands of them still inside the different 
Israeli jails. Of those still imprisoned, 361 children and 126 females in 
addition to about a thousand patients suffering different diseases, 
including paralysis, blindness and amputations.

Al Ashqar noted that the administrative detention frequencies have 
increased drastically, a thing that caused the administrative detainees to 
boycott the court hearings to protest the renewal of their terms. 2464 
administrative detainees are still inside Israeli jails, of them 434 have 
spent more than ten years, 140 spent more than 15 years and 16 spent more 
than 20 years, while five prisoners, including the oldest Palestinian 
prisoner Saeed Al Ataba, have spent more than 25 years in prison.

The Ministry documented more than 2000 arrests this year, compared with 500 
cases in 2001. The number of deaths among the prisoners also increased 
during 2004, as 176 prisoners died inside Israeli jails, compared with 165 
deaths until 2003.

Also, the year 2004 recorded an increase in the number of life terms, as 
the number of prisoners sentenced to more than one life terms in Israeli 
jails reached 444 prisoners, including Abdullah Barghouti, who was 
sentenced to 67 life terms in prison, which is considered the highest 
verdict ever made in Israeli courts.

As for detention conditions inside the jails, the year 2004 witnessed the 
revoking of kitchen access to Palestinian prisoners, and instead the 
kitchen was handed over to Israeli criminal convicts, and thus Palestinian 
prisoners refused to eat what those convicts cook as it contradicts their 
beliefs and traditions, forcing them to prepare their own food and incur 
more expenses due to the increase in foodstuffs prices.

The prisoners also complained of the bad food being served in Israeli 
jails, which resulted in many food-poisoning cases among them. 
Additionally, Israeli jail administrations imposed many penal measures 
against Palestinian prisoners, including banning family visits, imposing 
high fines for worthless reasons, frequent transfer of prisoners from one 
jail to another to destabilize the prisoners.

One of the prisoners, Aladdin Al Bezyan, who is a blind man sentenced to 20 
years in jail, has been denied family visits for four years now.

Al Ashqar further mentioned that during 2004 a large number of female 
prisoners was recorded, as 63 out of a total of 126 prisoners remain inside 
Israeli jails.

The Ministry of Prisoners Affairs report asserted that the number of 
patient prisoners soared inside Israeli jails, due to the bad detention 
conditions as well as decreased hygiene and lack of proper health care.

The number of sick prisoners rose from 700 in 2003 to more than a thousand 
in 2004 including dozens whose conditions are serious and require immediate 
surgeries, according to outside doctors who reviewed their medical files.

The report confirmed that there have been a deliberate lack of medical 
attention by the Israeli Prison Service towards Palestinian prisoners, 
especially those hospitalized at Al Ramleh prison hospital, where 140 
prisoners are staying there with minimum attention.

the year 2004 also saw the opening of new jails to accommodate the large 
number of prisoners being arrested everyday by random arrest campaigns and 
raids throughout the Gaza Strip and West Bank. The 'Gilboa' prison was 
recently opened in the Bisan Valley near 'Shatta' prison, and can 
accommodate 200 prisoners.

The Israeli Prison Service made this new prison to isolate the leaders of 
the prisoners' movement.

Israeli authorities also opened a new block in 'Ayalon' prison, which was 
previously a horse stable, and will be used to detain civilians, and later 
turned it into a block for Palestinian prisoners. Another new block was 
also opened in 'Negev' desert prison.

As for weapons, Israeli authorities used a variety of chemical agents 
against the prisoners, such as hot pepper rounds that paralyze the prisoner 
and cause him to suffer excruciating pains.

The year 2004 also witnessed a grave escalation towards minor prisoners, as 
Israeli authorities dealt with them as 'ticking bombs', imprisoning and 
torturing them as adult prisoners, which is a blatant violation of all 
human rights law and international conventions.

The number of patient children inside Israeli jails rose to 48, compared 
with 34 in 2003.

At the end of its report, the Ministry of Prisoners Affairs demanded all 
the legal and human rights organizations to urgently interfere and help the 
Palestinian prisoners, as well as expose the Israeli violations against 
them and intensify visits to Israeli jails to get a closer picture on the 
prisoner's catastrophic conditions, especially patients and minors, whose 
detention lacks the simplest rights stated by the Fourth Geneva Convention.

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