[Pnews] 35 Palestinian Women Yearning for Freedom on International Women’s Day

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Mar 8 20:24:15 EST 2021

https://www.addameer.org/en/news/pressrealease/international-women-day 35
Palestinian Women Yearning for Freedom on International Women’s Day
March 8, 2021

*Today*, as the world commemorates International Women's Day, 35
Palestinian women are yearning for freedom in Israeli prisons and detention
centers. Amongst whom are 11 mothers, six wounded prisoners, and three
administrative detainees. Palestinian women are subjected to many forms of
physical and psychological ill-treatment throughout the process of their
arrest leading up to their incarceration. The Israeli Occupation Forces
brutally arrest Palestinian women during night raids, snatching many from
their children and families.

During interrogations, the Israeli occupation authorities’ subject
Palestinian women to extremely humiliating interrogation techniques,
including prolonged stress positions, sleep deprivation, physical assault,
and numerous threats, as well as depriving Palestinian women of their basic
necessities and needs, often using them as leverage. Palestinian female
prisoners are held in Damon prison under harsh living conditions that do
not align with the bare minimum of adequate living standards. It should be
noted that Damon prison is located outside the 1967 occupied territory, in
violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that
an Occupying Power must detain residents of the occupied territory in
prisons inside the occupied territory.

On International Women's Day, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights
Association honors Palestinian women for their integral role in throughout
the history of Palestine, recognizes their persistent achievements, and
acknowledges the injustices and prejudice. We urge the international
community to demand the release of all Palestinian female political prisoners
held arbitrarily in Israeli prisons and detention centers.

*Palestinian Human Rights Defender Detained Without Charge: Khitam Sa'afin*

The Israeli apartheid regime continues to place Palestinians under
detention indefinitely without charge based on secret material that can be
disclosed to neither the detainees nor their lawyers; in an attempt to gain
and maintain control over the Palestinian people. On 2 November 2020, Ms.
Khitam Sa'afin, 59 years old, was arrested from her home, after which a
four-month administrative detention order was confirmed against her ending
on 1 March 2021. Nonetheless, the Israeli military commander renewed the
administrative detention order for an additional four months ending in June
2021. The military judge confirmed the renewal based on Ms. Sa’afin’s
active role in civil activities.

Ms. Sa'afin is the Head of the Union of Palestinian Women's Committees
(UPWC), a secretariat member of the General Union of Palestinian Women, and
a prominent Palestinian human rights defender. Her work is well renowned at
the regional and international levels. She is active at the World Social
Forum and a regional Coalition for Women Human Rights Defenders in the
Middle East and North Africa. Ms. Sa'afin has been a voice for
underprivileged Palestinian women regarding social issues and believes that
women's freedom is parallel to the Palestinian people's freedom. She is a
mother of three and a grandmother.

It should be noted that Ms. Khitam was previously arrested on 2 July 2017.
A week after her arrest, a three-month administrative detention order was
issued against her. The military prosecution claimed that Khitam is an
active member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and
requested that the court confirm the three-month order based on this

The criminalization of mere membership in or affiliation with a political
party violates fundamental international conventions, ensuring such
activities are protected under the freedoms of belief and association. It
also allows Israeli military authorities to detain individuals without
proving – or even alleging – any actual individual culpability for
activities or resistance against the ongoing belligerent Israeli occupation
that could be deemed legitimate offenses.

Such attacks and harassment are part of the Israeli occupation's aim to
silence those who defend and express their opposition to the Israeli
apartheid and illegal policies, at the foremost Palestinian human rights

*Palestinian Legislative Council Member: Khalida Jarrar*

On 1 March 2021, Ofer Israeli military court issued a ruling against
Palestinian Legislative Council member Ms. Khalid Jarrar. The ruling
included a 24-month prison sentence, a 12-month suspension for five years
from the day of her release, as well as a fine. The military prosecutor
amended Ms. Jarrar's indictment to limit it to her political role and work
with the Palestinian authority. Further emphasizing that Ms. Jarrar has no
responsibility or relation to any military, financial nor organizational

Ms. Jarrar's last arrest was on 31 October 2019, as part of the Israeli
occupation's campaign targeting dozens of Palestinian political activists
and university students during the second half of 2019. Previously, on 2
July 2017, Ms. Jarrar was arrested, and a six-month administrative
detention order was issued against her. A confirmation hearing was held at
Ofer military court without the presence of Ms. Jarrar, who refused to
attend the court hearing. The military prosecution claimed that Ms.
Jarrar's administrative detention is based on secret information related to
her alleged affiliation with the Popular Front for the Liberation of
Palestine. Not considering that Ms. Jarrar is an elected Palestinian
parliamentarian and a prominent human rights defender who advocates for
Palestinian political prisoners' rights within Israeli prisons.

Ms. Jarrar was to be released on 1 January 2018. However, her order was
renewed four times consecutively, twice for six months and twice for four
months, ending on 28 February 2019. The continuous harassment of Ms. Jarrar
is a stark example of Israel's systematic arrest of Palestinian political
leaders as part of an ongoing Israeli effort to suppress Palestinians'
exercise of political sovereignty and self-determination.

Ms. Jarrar is a Palestinian civil society leader who lives and works in the
occupied West Bank city of Ramallah. She was Addameer Prisoners' Support
and Human Rights Association's Director from 1994 to 2006. In 2006, she was
elected as a Palestinian Legislative Council member and had been the head
of the Prisoners Commission of the PLC since then. Ms. Jarrar was also
appointed to the Palestinian National Committee for the follow-up of the
International Criminal Court.

*University Student: Layan Kayed*

Ms. Layan Kayed was arrested on 8 June 2020 while crossing Za'tara military
checkpoint with her mother. The Israeli Occupation Forces stopped their
car, asked Layan for her ID, and then ordered her to step out of the car to
search it on the spot. Ms. Kayed was informed that she was under arrest
through a phone call with a Shabak (Israeli Security Agency) officer. The
Israeli soldiers cuffed her hands, shackled her legs with iron cuffs, and
seated her on a chair in an open area.

She was transferred to HaSharon prison to a section that holds both civil
(common-law) Israeli prisoners and Palestinian political prisoners. Ms.
Kayed was confined to a cell with twenty-four-hour camera surveillance and
subjected to poor detention conditions. For that purpose of interrogation,
Ms. Kayed was transferred, shackled, from HaShron prison to Ofer prison by
Bosta, which started in the early morning and lasted up to evening. She was
interrogated twice, in which her hands and legs were cuffed. The
interrogation questions centered on her activism as a student unionist at
the university.

As an apartheid regime, Israel prevents and oppresses students' attempts to
put their fundamental rights into practice, including their freedom of
expression and participation in political life. Such systematic violations
are devised to intimidate Palestinian students into refraining from
exercising their rights. Although international conventions and treaties
safeguard these rights, the Israeli occupation authorities deny Palestinian
students their freedom of conducting and participating in student and union

Layan, a middle daughter of a family consisting of two brothers and three
sisters, is an honor student. She enrolled in the Birzeit University
sociology bachelor's degree program full of energy and persistence, with a
96 average in the General Secondary Education Certificate Examination. Once
she completed the graduation requirements, Ms. Kayed could not experience
the joy of graduation with her beloved ones as she was arrested before
receiving her certificate that sums up a hard-won four-year academic
journey. Ms. Layan is awaiting a sentence under the pretext of
participating in student union activities.

*Detention Conditions of Palestinian Women Prisoners*

Of the 35 Palestinian women prisoners, 25 have already been sentenced, and
eight are awaiting trial. 10 Palestinian women prisoners are sentenced with
imprisonment for at least ten years or more, and eight are pending trial.
Palestinian women prisoners are incarcerated in Damon prison near Haifa,
which was founded during the British mandate in Palestine. Detention
conditions in Damon prison can only be described as unfit for human
habitation. Also, the Israeli Prison Services have placed an absolute ban
on educational books despite some prisoners' attempts, to bring in
university books to continue their education.

Currently, there are ten sick Palestinian women prisoners and six wounded.
The Israeli Prison Services adopt a systematic policy of medical negligence
regarding Palestinian prisoners. Above that, they deny Palestinian women,
prisoners of cultural and gender-sensitive medical treatment, repeatedly
dismissing their medical needs and disregarding their conditions through
stalling medical tests and delaying diagnosis. Women prisoners note
ill-treatment received at the hands of the prison doctors and nurses whose
treatment is proof of Israeli policies' apartheid and discriminatory nature
against Palestinian detainees.

Ms. Nourhan Awad was arrested on 23 November 2015, in which the Israeli
Occupation Forces shot her four times, once in the left leg and three times
on the right side of her stomach. She still suffers from gunshot wounds.
The Israeli District Court in Jerusalem sentenced Ms. Nourhan, at the time
she was wounded and a minor, to 10 years of imprisonment following the
alleged stabbing attack.

Palestinian women prisoners are also subjected to other arbitrary policies,
including solitary confinement, whether as a disciplinary measure or for
reasons of state, prison, or prisoner's security. On 10 June 2020, the
Israeli Prison Services claimed that Ms. Fadwa Hamada and Ms. Jihan
Hashimeh had a confrontation with a female prison guard, consequently
imposing a punishment of 72 days in solitary confinement at Al-Jalameh
prison. Before they were transferred to Al-Jalameh prison, they were
handcuffed with plastic wires for hours in a room in Damon prison. The two
Palestinian female detainees were not told of the duration of their
confinement and faced severe hardships while in solitary, as they were held
in a small, unclean, and unsanitized cell with twenty-four-seven
surveillance cameras violating their right to privacy. Most recently, Ms.
Hamada was isolated for 106days in similar circumstances, in complete
isolation from the outside world and other prisoners.

This policy of deliberate medical negligence is of even more pressing and
imperative concern during a global pandemic. Mostly, the Israeli occupation
authorities has failed to ensure the protection of Palestinian prisoners
and detainees during the spread of COVID-19, as they continue to be
subjected to harsh living conditions and lack of hygiene products, making
it impossible to restrain the virus's spread inside prisons. Article 76 of
the Fourth Geneva Convention affirms that prisoners and detainees shall
enjoy food and hygiene conditions sufficient to maintain good health,
further emphasizing that they receive medical attention required by their
state of health. Article 85 requires the detaining power to provide
adequate accommodation to safeguard its prisoners' and detainees' hygiene
and health.
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