As the Palestinian people mark Palestinian Prisoners’ Day on April 17, more than 800,000 Palestinians, including children, have been kidnapped and imprisoned by Israel since 1967, while at least 5,000 Palestinians are currently held by Israel, a report by the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees has revealed.The Ministry said that Israel is ongoing with its daily invasions, assaults and arrests against the Palestinians in different parts of occupied Palestine, targeting both men and women, adults and minors of varying ages.
It said that since Israel, in 1967, occupied the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, until the end of 2013, the army had kidnapped more than 800,000 Palestinians, including 15,000 women and thousands of children, and that the arrests are still ongoing.
“There isn’t single family that did not experience arrest, some numerous times”, the report said. “Israel turned every corner in occupied Palestine into a prison, detention camp and interrogation facility.”
After the second Palestinian Intifada, the al-Aqsa Intifada, which began in late September of 2000, Israeli soldiers have kidnapped more than 80,000 Palestinians, including around 10,000 children and more than 60 elected legislators and ministers.
Israeli authorities also issued more than 24,000 arbitrary Administrative Detention orders, detaining thousands without charges or trial, and imprisoning more than a 1,000 Palestinian women since then.
Arrests And Brutality Targeting Everybody
The arrests did not target any certain demographic or age group; instead, they targeted all sectors of the Palestinian society, including children, seniors, women, men, officials, ministers, legislators, political leaders, union leaders, disabled Palestinians, students, intellectuals, poets and artists…
Arrests take place every day, and there has not been one in which the army has not kidnapped someone. Most of the individuals abducted had nothing to do with “security threats”, to use Israel’s terminology, yet, imprisonment and torture became part of daily life for Palestinians.
According to the report, the real danger is that the vast majority of these arrests, and accompanying violations, are direct violations of International Humanitarian Law; “The detainees are extremely tortured and abused… face the most cruel methods of torture, physical and psychological. They are imprisoned under inhumane conditions, are humiliated, and even their families are humiliated and assaulted”.
Israel, its security devices and interrogators, continuously violate the rights of the detainees as it imprisons, intimidates and tortures children, women and even detainees with special needs.
Detainees In Numbers
5,000 Palestinians are still behind bars, imprisoned in different prisons and detention centers. Most of them are from the occupied West Bank. Around 576 of them have been sentenced to at least one life term.
There are 19 Palestinian women and 200 children who are still imprisoned by Israel, in addition to hundreds of children who grew up and became adults while in prison.
Israel is also still holding captive 185 Palestinians under arbitrary Administrative Detention orders without charge, eleven elected legislators and dozens of political officials.
The detainees are held in around 22 prisons, detention and interrogation camps, mainly in Ramon, Nafha, Asqalan, Be’er As-Sabe’, Hadarim, Galboa’, Shatta, Ramla, Damoun, HaSharon, Ofer, Majeddo, and the Negev Detention camp.
Detained Palestinian women, including children, face humiliation, torture, degradation, and are also tortured and beaten, in addition to the threats and harsh treatment they receive while being transferred. They also face repeated threat of sexual abuse.
Their suffering continues in solitary confinement, while the army also denies them family visits, denies them access to education, and proper medical treatment. Many of the detained women have husbands who are also imprisoned.
More than 1,400 Palestinians need medical attention but are, instead, denied the needed medical treatments, and are suffering from deteriorating medical conditions. Sixteen of them are continually living at Ramla Prison Clinic, which lacks basic supplies and specialized physicians.
Some of the detainees are paralyzed and/or amputees, with dozens struggling with major life-threatening conditions. They need special attention and surgeries, while only prison doctors are allowed to examine them.
80 of the ailing detainees suffer from chronic conditions, including 15 who have different types of cancer, while dozens of others suffer various other physical and/or mental conditions.
Most of the detainees who fall ill, or develop psychological conditions, were completely healthy before they were kidnapped and imprisoned.
Prisons lack appropriate sanitation, are filled with bugs and insects. Cells and rooms have high humidity and are overcrowded.
Dozens of Palestinians were taken prisoner after they were shot by the army, and were tortured and interrogated, beaten on their wounds and cuts.
Many detainees, while in prison, developed skin conditions, ulcer, tumors, kidney failure, eyesight deterioration, slipped discs, diabetes, oral conditions, tooth loss and various sorts of psychological conditions, are still abused, with their bodies being used for testing by pharmaceutical companies.
Administrative Detention is the “unknown enemy” which the detainees face, as it is a punishment without a charge, without an indictment. Administrative detainees are held without trial. Neither they or their lawyers are allowed to defend themselves, simply because they face what Israel calls a “secret file” that no one is allowed to see.
Each arbitrary Administrative Detention order is usually 1 to 6 months, issued by military commanders in the occupied Palestinian territories. Such orders target both men and women of different ages, young and old, including physicians, engineers, professors, teachers, journalists and elected legislators and officials.
Such orders are repeatedly renewed and, in many cases, just as the detainees are about to step out of prison, they are informed of a new order, often spending months and years under such orders without even knowing when, or if, they will ever be freed.
Following the resumption of direct Palestinian-Israeli talks in late July of 2013, and after years of stalemate, Israel was still holding captive 104 veteran detainees, held since before the First Oslo Agreement of 1993.
Under American mediation, Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank reached an agreement for the release of all 104 veteran detainees, in four stages.
In return, the Palestinian Authority vowed not to file any new application to join the different UN and other international institutions which, as a result, would allow them to gain international recognition, during the nine months of direct talks.
Israel implemented the first three stages of release, and backed down on the fourth, which supposed to be implemented by March 28, 2014. 30 veteran detainees were supposed to be freed, but Israel voided the deal.
The release was supposed to contribute to stability in the region, a part of the ongoing talks, free of violations and invasions, but Israel blatantly continued with its ongoing assaults, arrests, invasions and assassinations.
The United States, the mediator of these talks, along with the International Community, need to act, putting pressure on Israel to halt its violations, to respect its commitment and to release the detainees, if it is seriously willing to resume peace talks and reach a final status agreement.
The living conditions which detainees face in Israeli occupation prisons are tough, extremely harsh, especially in the face of such a wide range of violations and abuses which include but are not limited to torture, medical neglect and solitary confinement – this all in addition to repeated denial of family visits, malnutrition and blackmail, most often by way of children.
This is happening in addition to repeated attacks against the detainees in their rooms, night raids and searches, high fines, all different sorts of violations. Simply put, Israel is violating all international conventions and is denying them the most basic of human and prisoner rights.
According to detailed and documented reports by the Ministry of Detainees and various human rights groups, 205 Palestinian detainees died after being arrested since the year 1967.
Seventy-three of them died due to extreme torture; the latest casualty was Arafat Jaradat from Sa’ir town, near Hebron, who died less than two weeks after being kidnapped and repeatedly tortured by Israeli interrogators.
Fifty-three Palestinian detainees died due to lack of medical attention; the latest casualty being one Hasan Toraby from the northern West Bank city of Nablus.
Seventy-two Palestinians were executed after the soldiers kidnapped them, and seven were shot and killed while in prison.
These violations, and the unacceptable conditions which detainees face in Israeli prisons, require every Palestinian in the country, and around the world, to act in highlighting the suffering of the detainees, and to engage in solidarity acts which expose the serious violations and crimes perpetrated on them by the Israeli government.
Activists around the world, including all international institutions, in defense of both human and prisoner rights, are also called upon to act, in order to oblige Israel to respect those human and civil rights, to respect International Law, the Fourth Geneva Convention and all related treaties.