[Pnews] Recent Deterioration in Detention Conditions: Suffocating Palestinian Prisoners
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Oct 31 10:10:28 EDT 2018
Some of you may have heard about the recent escalation against
Palestinian prisoners, precisely female prisoners, and some of you have
not. For those who want to learn about the details behind this
escalation, read the below facts.
Deterioration in Detention Conditions: Suffocating Prisoners
It is not new for the Israeli occupation to selectively reduce the
standard of conditions of detainment for Palestinian prisoners. Such a
limitation in the provision of basic services is utilized as a
punishment against the prisoners, many times the prison authorities
claim it to simply be ‘regular procedure’. Despite such claims, the
restrictions Israeli occupation authorities place on Palestinian
prisoners are violations for several articles in both international
humanitarian law and international human rights law.
In addition to these violations, the Israeli occupation authorities
repeatedly carried out these restrictions to collectively punish prisons
for actions they did not commit. Article 33 of Fourth Geneva Convention
and Article 50 of the Hague Regulations prohibits the punishment of any
individual for a crime he/she did not commit, and a violation of this
article amounts to a war crime.
This paper will tackle the issue of the continued limitation of the
provision of services and restrictions for Palestinian prisoners in
Israeli prisoners and detention centers. The paper will focus on a new
committee formulated by the Israeli occupation authorities in order to
reduce the standard detention conditions as much as possible. For the
occupation, such limiting is now referred to as the ‘depriving of
privileges’ rather than as the denial of basic human rights.
*General Detention Conditions*
Palestinian political prisoners are spread around approximately 17
prisons, four interrogation centers and four detention centers. All but
one of the prisons are located inside the territory known as Israel, in
direct contravention of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. In
most of these prisons, there is overcrowding, a lack of very basic
amenities, poor hygiene, humidity and a significant lack of fresh air.
In recent years, the average living space per prisoner has dropped from
3.4 to 2.9 square meters. Windows in prison cells are often covered by
iron sheets, thus reducing the availability of natural sunlight.
Prisoners held in al-Naqab prison live in unheated, threadbare tents
that do not provide adequate shelter against extreme weather in the
winter or summer.
Two Israeli Prison Service (IPS) policies with regard to Palestinian
political prisoners deserve particular attention: the use of *isolation*
for punitive purposes and *medical negligence*. Every year, dozens of
Palestinian prisoners and detainees are held in isolation, for alleged
reasons of state or prison “security.” The length of time in isolation
that prison officials may order can extend from 12 hours to up to longer
periods of six to 12 months, with court approval. Prisoners held in
isolation are held in a cell typically from 1.5 by 2 meters to 3 by 3.5
Israeli authorities also systematically neglect their duties to provide
medical support to Palestinian prisoners in their care, as required by
the Geneva Conventions. Medical problems are widespread, and range in
severity from chest infections and diarrhea to heart problems and kidney
failure. Although all prisons include a medical clinic, physicians are
on duty irregularly and specialized medical healthcare is generally
unavailable. Once they are examined, however, most prisoners are simply
prescribed painkillers without any thorough medical follow-up. Transfers
to hospitals for needed treatment may take place only after weeks or months.
Other than those two policies, the Israeli occupation authorities
generally try to restrict many other basic services for Palestinian
prisoners such as family visits and education. This has happened in
wide-scale in 2008, 2011, 2014, 2017 and recently in the past weeks.
*Some Past Instances of Deterioration of Detention Conditions*
Palestinian prisoner’s detention conditions have gradually deteriorated
over the years despite collective actions resisting such steps. Big
changes in regard to detention conditions came in 2011 on the heels of a
speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on 23 June 2011.
During this speech, announced a policy aimed at collectively punishing
Palestinian prisoners for the continued incarceration of Israeli soldier
Gilad Shalit. Prior to this speech, Israeli Prison Services (IPS) was
already punishing Palestinian prisoners in different forms and for the
Since then the IPS has:
* Canceled all prisoners’ access to university education, newspapers,
and certain books from outside prison.
* Limited the number of TV channels available to prisoners to three
* Started shackling all prisoners’ hands and legs in transport to and
from all visits and.
* In some prisons, the duration of family visits has been shortened
from 45 to 30 minutes, with children under the age of 8 unable to
have physical contact with incarcerated parents as they were before.
Some of these restrictions stopped after some time and other
restrictions are still ongoing until this day. For example, some of the
ongoing restrictions are:
* The ban on education;
* Reduced TV channels for Hamas prisoners;
* limiting the amount of money spent in prisoner’s canteens for Hamas
prisoners (from 1200 NIS to 600/800 NIS a month).
This kind of increase in severity has reoccurred several times. Such
instances include in 2014 after the kidnapping of three Israeli settlers
in the West Bank and then the last Gaza war. In 2014 the number of
Palestinian prisoners witnessed a major increase of around 1000 extra
prisoners than the average. This did not only mean overcrowding in
prisons, but also major deteriorations in medical and educational
services. During this period several other privileges and rights were
also restricted, such as family visits, TV channels, ..etc.
Another example comes in 2017 when prisoners staged an open hunger
strike as mean to demand their basic rights and improve their detention
conditions. The IPS collectively punished the prisoners through fines,
isolating them, denying their family visits and banning them from
meeting their lawyers.
*Recent Deterioration in Detention Conditions: Suffocating Prisoners*
On 13 June 2018, the Israeli Minister for Public Security, Gilad Erdan,
announced the formation of a special committee with members drawn from
the Israeli Knesset, and the intelligence community. The purpose of such
a committee is to evaluate the conditions for Palestinian prisoners
being held in occupation prisons and to determine ways in which
conditions and can be reduced to a bare minimum, as stated by Gilad
Erdan. The committee was meant to present its recommendations within 90
days of its founding.
The recommendations are not yet published for the public, but actions
have been taken against prisoners in recent weeks. Those actions have
focused on three main areas: economic (provision of food, Canteen),
education (confiscation of educational books) and privacy, with the
installation of cameras at the prison that holds Palestinian women,
Hasharon. In addition to these three issues, Addmeer recently
documented a lack of hot water in several prisons as well. Such
sanctions are ongoing and will likely target other rights, such as
The economic exploitation of Palestinian prisoners can be monitored
through their purchase of food and hygiene products from the canteens.
Initially, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was
responsible for providing prisoners and detainees with basic goods such
as biscuits, coffee, tea, and cigarettes. Although there is no official
documentation, according to prisoner testimonies, the prison
administration established the canteen around 1973 through which
prisoners would begin to purchase these products at their own expense.
The ICRC ceased providing these items.
In 1993, as part of a larger wave of Israeli privatization, the Israeli
government opted to privatize a number of services in the prisons. At
the time, the government awarded Shekem a 10-year contract to run the
canteens. Nowadays, the supplier is a private Israeli company, Dadash
Hadarom Distribution Dadash.
By request, three prisons (Naqab, Damon, and Ofer) provided canteen
price lists to Addameer’s lawyers. While the canteen supplier, Dadash,
is required to have uniform prices across all prisons, we found that
there were discrepancies in the cost of the same item in different
prisons. Furthermore, the difference in prices of the same products
between Palestinian cities and the Israeli prisons is significant
In addition to the canteens, the IPS is required to provide meals/food
for prisoners, as documented by Addameer, it mostly comes in an
agreement between prisoners and IPS in each prison. So the provision of
meals/food is different from a prison to the other, though it concluded
that almost all prisons have to buy their own food as well, because of
the bad quality and small quantity of the meals/food provided.
Despite these facts, with the recent escalation against prisoners, there
is a limitation in the kind of food provided, for example, in both
Hadereem and Hasharon frozen food is not provided anymore not from the
IPS or in the Canteen. Furthermore, with new Erdan special committee,
prisoners at Hedarem and Hasharon reported to Addameer’s lawyers that
the provision of food has been reduced to 3 kilos of meat and vegetables
According to the IPS law about prisoner’s education, adopted in 2004 and
updated in 2006, prisoners are allowed to obtain higher education
degrees in prisons. This was implemented through the IPS with
cooperation with specific universities. The IPS specified what courses
allowed and what courses are not, this also applies to books. Some of
the banned courses and books are biology, chemistry, physics, IT,
anything that requires a drawing lap and anything that can harm the
security of ‘Israel’. This meant that the allowed courses were limited
to social sciences.
Nevertheless, as mentioned before, in June 2011 the Israeli occupation
forces banned higher education for Palestinians in Israeli prisons. This
was performed as punishment in response to the detainment of Israeli
soldier Gilad Shalit, who was imprisoned by Hamas. Several attempts from
civil society organizations were made to appeal the decision to ban
higher education for Palestinian prisoners. The appeal reached the
Israeli high court in 2015 and the decision was negative as the court
ruled to maintain the ban.
As a result, education stopped in all prisons for a while. Then,
Palestinian prisoners unofficially presumed to study and to gain higher
education degrees by having several educated prisoners teach the rest in
organized classes. However, this unofficial education became limited to
only one prison, Hadarem, for the fact that Hadarem had a number of
educated prisoners who became the educators themselves. As N. A. S.. a
prisoner at Hadarem, told Addameer’s lawyer, “there are around 40 to 50
Palestinian students at Hadarem prison. Some of them are doing their BA
degrees and others are doing their master’s degrees.”
With the new Special Committee, restrictions have increased on education
and access to books. On 3 September 2018, in Hadarem prison, around 1800
educational books were confiscated. All educational books were
subsequently banned, meaning that families could also no longer bring
them in for prisoners.
Prisoners M. S. reported to Addameer’s lawyers that,
Last year, on 31 Dec 2017, an Israeli prison intelligence unit came to
the prison [Hadarem] and took all of the books reviewed them and then
after few days only returned some of them. Now it is happening again. We
are only allowed to have novels but educational books are not allowed
anymore. With the new special committee, each prisoner is only allowed 7
books. Our library had over 5000 books one time, now it’s empty; it’s
nothing. Those who want to learn or teach are dependent on their own
knowledge and memory because they don’t have anything else.
Following on this, on 23 October 2018, Addameer’s lawyer visited Hadarem
again. The prisoners there reported that the IPS informed them of new
decisions to be implemented in the prison. Prisoners at Hadarem were
also informed that the female prisoners at Hasharon will be transferred
to Demon prison before 5 November 2018.
In addition to food and education, the IPS have removed all chairs,
tables, games such as chess, and all other recreational items. As a
result, prisoners stopped going into the yard to their recreational time
and since 22 October 2018, they are returning their meals as a way to
express their discontent to those new punitive measures. Furthermore, on
23 October 2018 few prisoners started a hunger strike, Ayman Salhab,
Mahmoud Qawasmi and Samir Abd al-Latif are on hunger strike because of
the newly implemented measures, Kifah Hatab and Khalil Abu Eram are on
hunger strike in solidarity with the female prisoners in Hasharon.
As part of these punitive measures, the cameras in Hasharon prison for
women began operating again after being shut off for years following an
agreement between the prisoners and the administration in 2011. The
female prisoners naturally rejected the imposition of the cameras, and
since 6 September have refused to go into the yard for their
recreational time. As part of their protest, the prisoners sent a letter
explaining that all their recreational facilities are located in this
area and are thus inaccessible to them while the cameras are
operational. On 20 September 2018, the Israeli intelligence service made
the suggestion that the cameras be turned off for two and a half hours,
while the prisoners are having recreation time, but this was rejected as
being insufficient. After the women rejected this suggestion, they were
threatened with being transferred to another prison, Dimon, and were
informed that even the two and a half hours suggestion was no longer there.
After visiting Hasharon, Addameer’s lawyers added that female prisoners
use the classroom in their recreational time. However, after a year of
having no teacher for minor prisoners, since 3 October 2018, a teacher
comes every Wednesday and uses the classroom for the whole day. In
addition to this, the female prisoners reported that there is a shortage
in the provision of food, specifically some kind of vegetables and
bread. Also, the quality of the meals has dropped down as they reported
receiving some meals uncooked, especially the rice. Other than this, the
female prisoners stated that there is no provision of hot water since
the beginning of September 2018, the IPS responds to the prisons inquiry
about hot water by saying that they are looking into the situation.
Female prisons also reported that medical services are lacking, they
complained from the bad behavior of the assigned Doctor at Hasharon,
also the only treatment the doctor provides is an advice to prisoners to
drink more water. Thus, female prisoners filed a complaint against the
Doctor and they are currently waiting on the response. It is worth
mentioning that there are 9 injured female prisoners and the number of
prisoners who suffer from several other medical conditions.
Finally, the female prisoners expressed their concerns about the new
restrictions. They also expect more restrictions specifically regarding
family visits since some of their relatives did not receive entry
permits to visit this month.
Addameer filed a complaint against re-operating the cameras in Hasharon.
However, on 17 October 2018, the prison administrators at Hasharon
replied relatively by stating that most Israeli prisons include cameras
and Hasharon should be like the others. This statement did not can into
consideration the fact that Hasharon is a prison for females who are a
vulnerable group and require special treatment.
*Legal analysis *
As a starting point in regard to the conditions of prisoners, Article 10
of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
states that “[a]ll persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated
with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human
person.” Using the conditions under which an individual is being
detained as a method of collective punishment is not in keeping with
respecting the inherent dignity of the human person. Such forms of
collective punishment are clearly prohibited under international law, as
stated in Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention law and Article 50
of the Hague Regulations.
Additionally, in regard to the standard of hygiene and food, Article 76
of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that prisoners and detainees
should enjoy conditions of food and hygiene sufficient for maintaining
In regard to adequate medical attention and treatment, Article 91
emphasizes that “every place of internment shall have an adequate
infirmary…” and that “Internees may not be prevented from presenting
themselves to the medical authority for examination.” In addition to
this article, Article 92 asserts that “Medical inspections of internees
shall be made at least once a month…”. It is evident that the
withholding of treatment, or access to a medical professional, is a
violation of these specific provisions, and therefore a violation of
international humanitarian law.
As for operating the cameras in Hasharon prison, other than it being a
violation of Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights guarantees all persons’ right to privacy, this act is
also a violation of the Bangkok Rules. In specific, Rule 41 states that
the prison authorities should “Take into account the generally lower
risk posed by women prisoners to others, as well as the particularly
harmful effects that high-security measures and increased levels of
isolation can have on women prisoners.” Also, Rule 43 states that
official visits should be taken to prisons “to ensure their [women in
detention] mental wellbeing and social reintegration.” In the case of
the Israeli occupation authorities, they did make official visits to
Hasharon prison, however, it was not to ensure the wellbeing of women
prisoners rather it was to restrict them and operate high-security
measures that harm their wellbeing.
Both International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and International Human Rights
Law (IHRL) provide for the right of detainees to education. In
particular, the right to education for all has been recognized in
Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. ICCPR, ratified
by Israel in 1991, emphasizes that “education shall be directed to the
full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity,
and shall strengthen the respect for human rights and fundamental
freedoms”. Article 94 of the Fourth Geneva Convention urges the
“Detaining Power” to “take all practicable measure to ensure the
exercise” of “intellectual, educational and recreational pursuits”. It
further stipulates that “all possible facilities shall be granted to
internees to continue their studies or to take up new subjects.”
The Israeli occupation authorities are claiming that all of these listed
rights are privileges rather than rights. However, as shown above,
prisoners have the right to be treated with humanity and dignity. They
also have the right to enjoy sufficient conditions of food and hygiene,
they have the right to education and the right to receive adequate
medical services. The Israeli occupation authorities systematically
violate all these rights and conventions. Detention conditions are
increasingly deteriorating a year after the other.
On 4 September 2008, the European Parliament adopted a resolution
calling on Israel “to guarantee that minimum standards on detention be
respected, to bring to trial all detainees, to put an end to the use of
‘administrative detention orders’, and to implement adequate measures
for minors and prisoners’ visiting rights, in full compliance with
international standards.” Addameer calls on the European Union to act
upon their adopted resolutions and work towards holding Israel
accountable for their continuous violations of international
humanitarian law and international human rights law.
We also call on the international community to advance their engagement
through abiding to their responsibility as third states and ensure the
rights of all 5,800 Palestinian political prisoners.
Addameer continues to monitor the work of this new special committee and
will report on any new restrictions and limitations against Palestinian
 <#_ftnref1> For further information read Addameer’s report on the
economic exploitation of Palestinian.
*Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association*
P. O. Box: 17338, Jerusalem
3 Edward Said Street
1st Floor, Suite 2
Tel: +972 (0)2 296 0446 / 297 0136
Fax: +972 (0)2 296 0447
Email: info at addameer.ps
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the PPnews