[Pnews] Palestinian Prisoners In Israeli Jails Face A Point Of No Return

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Sun Aug 8 14:12:14 EDT 2021


  Palestinian Prisoners In Israeli Jails Face A Point Of No Return

By Kasturi Chakraborty - August 4, 2021

 From shackling the prisoners to their beds and denying them medical 
treatment to adopting a system of comprehensive violence, Israel’s 
perpetual violations of the basic rights of Palestinian prisoners expose 
how the use of torture under “special measures” is officially sanctioned 
and justified by the claim of “necessity”.

“The feeling of victory is beautiful, but I left my brothers behind,” 
28-year-old Palestinian administrative detainee Ghadanfar Abu Atwan told 
/Core Middle East/ after his release from Israel’s Raymond prison this 

He was transferred from the Israel Prison Service clinic in Ramle to 
Istishari Hospital in the occupied West Bank after he was freed from 
Israeli custody. Being on a hunger strike since May 6, Ghadanfar’s 
health deteriorated.

“I was arrested when I was 19 years old. I had no charges against me and 
Israel kept extending the period of my detention without any trial. I 
decided to go on a hunger strike during which I was tortured and beaten 
in prison. It did not stop there. When I was taken to Ramle clinic due 
to my deteriorating health, I was abused and kept naked for 24 hours,” 
said Ghadanfar.

Ghadanfar Abu Atwan with his family after his release from prison.

He said that these hospitals are “death traps” for Palestinian 
prisoners. “When a Palestinian prisoner tries to defend himself, they 
kill him,” the Palestinian activist informed /Core Middle East. /

Although Ghadanfar returned home on July 17, he is constantly fighting 
against the mass incarceration of Palestinians. Instead of focusing on 
his health, he is out on the streets seeking justice for those who are 
being imprisoned unjustly. One such prisoner is Eyad Hrebat (39) from 
Khirbet Sikka near Dura in the south of Hebron. He is in prison for the 
last 20 years. His family had no idea he was alive because the prison 
authorities had told them that he was not alive.

Ghadanfar Abu Atwan shows solidarity with Palestinian prisoner Eyad 
Hrebat after his release.

“Eyad’s condition is extremely critical. But he is serving life in 
Israeli prison, so if something happens to him, the Israeli authorities 
will not hand over his body or disclose any details about his death to 
his family,” Ghadanfar said, adding that bodies of Palestinians are 
often used as a “bargaining chip” by the carceral state that is Israel.

/Core Middle East/ spoke to Eyad’s sister-in-law, Doha Mohamed Youssef 
Mostafa from occupied Al-Khalil, who said he is currently at Soroka 
Medical Center in Beersheba, Israel. The worst part is his family knows 
nothing about his health at the moment. A few weeks back when his health 
worsened, his mother was just allowed to meet him once at the Ramla 
prison clinic.

“Eyad is on ventilator support and his health hangs by a thread. But we 
are not aware of the specifics of his health at the moment. I contacted 
the lawyer but he said family visitation has been denied and no medical 
updates have been shared with the family,” Doha said.

Eyad Hrebat was a 19-year-old engineering student at An-Najah National 
University when he was arrested on September 21, 2002. His sister-in-law 
recalls how bright Eyad was as a student. He got his B.A. in Political 
Science and International Relations while in prison, learned several 
languages, and also helped fellow prisoners with reading and writing.

Doha said Eyad was accused of inciting violence against Israeli forces 
while he was defending his land. He was part of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs 
Brigades and the Palestinian resistance. What has followed since then is 
a series of deliberate medical negligence.

Even though he needed extensive medical care, the Israeli administration 
made sure that he returned to prison in the middle of his treatments. So 
far, Eyad has undergone multiple surgeries after the Israeli forces 
injected him with some unknown substances that led to his memory loss 
and complete paralysis.

The Prisoner’s Club had said the medical negligence caused a 
neurological disorder that has affected Eyad’s ability to talk and move, 
making his body shiver constantly. The contaminated injections have 
caused a bacterial infection to spread throughout his body, through the 
blood to his lungs, and he lost almost 70 kgs of weight due to decades 
of systematic abuse.

“Eyad was tortured in every possible way. To make it worse, he was put 
in solitary confinement. The Raymond prison authorities sprayed some 
toxic gas on him that burned his body, and his legs and arms have 
stopped functioning,” Doha said.

Eyad’s lawyer informed that his client does not remember anything about 
what happened to him inside the Raymond Prison about a month ago. “Eyad 
suffered chronic prostatitis that led to the problem of urinary 
retention. He had a prostatic stent that ruptured and led to a 
laceration in the bladder and prostate after which he was transferred 
again to Soroka Hospital,” the lawyer said.

He was getting treated at Soroka Hospital where his health had slightly 
improved but then again the prison authorities transferred him to Ramle 
prison clinic, which is basically a “slaughterhouse” for Palestinian 
prisoners and is known for its medical crimes.

Although Eyad’s medical reports were not shared with the family, Doha 
said the doctor at Soroka Hospital had specifically informed the family 
that he needed three to four more months in the hospital. He currently 
cannot stand on his feet, carry out any vital functions without 
assistance, and his life is bound to external devices.

Eyad’s case is not unique and it only highlights how Palestinians become 
everyday targets of torture in the Israeli prison system, which has been 
legitimized through domestic law since its creation in 1948.

As a signatory, 
Israel has c0nstantly violated the terms of the Convention against 
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment 
(CAT,1987) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 
(ICCPR, 1966) and the Fourth Geneva Convention (GCIV,1949), which 
prohibit the use of torture during interrogation as well as in custody.

 From shackling the prisoners to their beds and denying them medical 
treatment to adopting a system of comprehensive violence, Israel’s 
perpetual violations of the basic rights of Palestinian prisoners expose 
how the use of torture under “special measures” is officially sanctioned 
and justified by the claim of “necessity”.

Methods of torture used by Shin Bet interrogators against Palestinian 
prisoners. Photo: Abid Katib/Getty Images

“There are many things Israel is not supposed to do as per the 
international law but that has never stopped it from doing what it 
does,” says Dawn Shannon who is privy to 28-year-old Palestinian 
prisoner Bassam Jaber’s case. Dawn is from the Netherlands and is 
married to a Palestinian man and has two children. She says she has 
started a petition to demand the release of Bassam in order to help yet 
another unfairly imprisoned Palestinian.

Speaking about the case, Dawn said: “Bassam was originally arrested for 
stone-throwing and later charged with planning a military attack. His 
imprisonment changed to administrative detention for 6 months, which can 
extend further.”

Following an appeal hearing in the Ofer military court on July 25, 
Bassam’s lawyer Abdullah Hoshieh said, “The session was good in my 
opinion, and the position of the prosecution was somewhat weak. But 
administrative detention is linked to the Israeli intelligence and it 
influences the decisions of the judges.”

The lawyer has also informed that the court’s decision was scheduled to 
be issued on July 29 but that did not take place. “The appeal was first 
delayed and finally rejected. The next step would be to approach the 
Supreme Court,” he said.

Bassam went on a hunger strike on June 24 and spent 18 days without food 
and 11 days without water. “A few days back, he was tricked into signing 
a document in Hebrew with an assurance that he would be released from 
prison, in his lawyer’s absence. Bassam ended his hunger strike assuming 
he would be free and boarded a bus. However, instead of taking him home, 
it transferred him to Al-Naqab Prison,” Dawn said.

Originally from Qalqilya, Bassam lives in Qatanna, northwest of Al-Quds 
(Occupied Jerusalem), and is married and has three children (4 years 
old, 3 years old, and an almost 8 months old baby). “Bassam’s wife has 
some serious complications in her spinal cord and his youngest child has 
diabetes. His wife is concerned about their children who have been 
unjustly separated from their father,” Dawn added.

According to the data <https://www.addameer.org/> shared by the Addameer 
Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Israeli prisons are 
holding 4,850 Palestinian political prisoners, including 540 
administrative detainees without any charge or trial. There are 225 
child prisoners and 41 female prisoners, the data shows.

Israeli Prison Services figures show that as of August 31 last year, 
Israel held 4,207 Palestinians in custody for “security” offenses, 
including 153 children, many for throwing stones, and 355 in 
administrative detention without formal charges or trial and based on 
secret evidence.

    52,000 Administrative Detention orders have been issued since 1967.
    That represents at
    least 15,000 years of jail time – spent for no reasons!
    pic.twitter.com/7e9UFnmWfE <https://t.co/7e9UFnmWfE>

    — Aya Isleem 🇵🇸 #Gaza (@AyaIsleemEn) April 16, 2019

/Core Middle East /spoke to a few human rights activists in and outside 
Palestine who shared their experiences in trying to make sense of how 
the Israeli government would rather see an administrative detainee dead 
than release him.

Pictures from administrative detention campaign’s event. (Courtesy: 
Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association)

“As laid out in the Geneva Conventions, administrative detention is 
permissible for an occupying force when used to temporarily incarcerate 
an individual who poses an immediate and significant threat to the 
occupying force or nation. However, it is not meant to be used in an 
arbitrary manner to detain and imprison people indefinitely for 
protesting, advocating for their rights, or political views.

“This is also why military occupations are meant to be temporary as 
there is a chance that the occupying force will use these war-time 
measures as a way to control, intimidate and silence the people who they 
are occupying,” said Jane Large, a human rights activist and high school 
teacher from Canada.

A search must be accompanied by a warrant or meet basic restrictive 
conditions, which never apply in cases of Palestinians living in the 
West Bank. As per Israeli law, detainees need to be brought before a 
judge within 24 hours. This can even extend to 48-96 hours in 
exceptional circumstances. This does not apply to Palestinian detainees. 
The military law permits Israel to hold Palestinian detainees for up to 
eight days before they see a judge.

The parallel criminal justice systems maintained by Israeli authorities 
show how Jewish settlers enjoy robust rights protection and Palestinians 
do not while living in the same territory. While one faces a 100% 
conviction rate in military courts, the other does not get prosecuted in 
military courts. Palestinians need permits for demonstrations and can 
even be jailed for 10 years for participating in a gathering of more 
than 10 people. But when it comes to setters, the number needs to be 
more than 50 for the issuance of permits.

Israeli authorities blatantly violate international humanitarian law by 
jailing most Palestinian prisoners from the OPT inside Israel even 
though the transfer of residents from the occupied territory is 
forbidden. This becomes a major issue when it comes to family visits.

Because Israel does not have any domestic legislation prohibiting the 
use of torture, the boundaries of the degradation under the guise of 
state security are illimitable.

“I believe that the basic human rights of prisoners must be upheld 
regardless of what crime they commit. I do not adhere to beliefs such as 
an “eye for an eye”, even if they are built into judicial systems, as I 
believe this kind of retribution only fuels cycles of revenge, 
retaliation, and hatred,” Jane said.

Just like Ghandafar, some don’t even fear getting arrested multiple 
times as long as they could mobilize local and international support by 
advocating for the Palestinian cause.

“Be it assaults, detentions, arrests, insults, or threats on social 
media, I have been subjected to all sorts of harassment by 
settler-colonists and occupying soldiers,” Badee Dwaik, founder and 
president of Human Rights Defenders Group in Palestine, informed /Core 
Middle East. /

Badee was arrested more than 19 times. He said he was 19 years and a 
half years old when he was arrested for the first time and spent three 
years in Israeli prisons. After his release, he founded the Human Rights 
Defenders Group with the objective of mobilizing masses in non-violent 
popular resistance against the occupation. It has been actively 
spreading awareness about prisoners of conscience on hunger strikes 
through social media, advocacy campaigns, sit-ins, and by addressing 
several international bodies, seeking their intervention.

According to the Palestinian Prisoners Club’s statement, 11 Palestinian 
prisoners were on a hunger strike against their administrative detention 
in Israeli jails in July.

“One of our goals was to establish a photography project to document the 
crimes and violations of the occupation forces against my people and 
supporting Palestinian families who live in closed areas and are 
besieged by settlements and military barriers on the psychological, 
social, and economic levels,” Badee added.

He also shared that a program has been introduced to empower families 
that live in close military areas. “We give free courses in English, 
Hebrew, photography and video production to such families, and organize 
picnics and fun activities for children,” the human rights activist said.

Meanwhile, /Core Middle East/ also spoke to Yasmin A Frühbrodt, an Iraqi 
human rights defender who has been constantly advocating for the rights 
of Palestinian prisoners on social media through petitions and campaigns.

  “We were always taught that the entirety of the Middle East is not 
free from imperialism and colonialism until Palestine was free. All of 
Palestine. We were always told that a two-state solution was never an 
option. I remember that we never heard or read the word Israel; it was 
always Occupied Palestine. We never heard or read the word Jews; it was 
always Zionists. We knew the difference between Judaism and Zionism,” 
Yasmin said.

Badee and other human rights activists echoed similar sentiments while 
explaining the extent of “medical apartheid” unleashed by Israeli 
authorities. The occupation authorities were first reluctant to provide 
vaccinations to Palestinian prisoners, even though the citizens of the 
occupying country were among the first to get vaccinated.

Moreover, underArticle 56 
the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel, as the occupying power, has the 
duty of ensuring, to the fullest extent of the means available to it, 
“the adoption and application of the prophylactic and preventive 
measures necessary to combat the spread of contagious diseases and 
epidemics” in the occupied Palestinian territory (the West Bank, 
including East Jerusalem, and Gaza), with the cooperation of local 
authorities. UnderArticle 55 
has the duty of ensuring “medical supplies of the population … if the 
resources of the occupied territory are inadequate.”

Whatever Palestinian prisoners go through in Israeli jails is reflective 
of a long history of a sick, and corrupt society, and prisoners like 
Bassam and Eyad have reached a point of no return. Through prolonged 
hunger strikes, they are constantly putting their lives on the line to 
reclaim their agency and assert their political existence.

It is imperative to support and nurture this resistance but this should 
not be their only way out of prison. The mounting pressure by 
grassroots, human rights organizations, and official bodies in and 
outside Palestine to hold Israel accountable, and the swelling support 
for prisoners’ rights reflects a seismic shift in global governance to 
make sure that the prisoners never have to resort to such acts of 
resistance by causing irreversible harm to their bodies.

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