- Since 1979, April 17 annually is Palestinian Prisoners
Day, commemorating Mahmoud Hijazi's 1974 release - the first ever prisoner
swap with Israel.
- Acknowledging the day, the Addameer Prisoners Support
and Human Rights Association highlighted the thousands of persecuted prisoners,
launching a new campaign on their behalf "to raise awareness of specific
cases....whose detention (pose) serious risks."
- Ayed Dudeen is one of many affected, incarcerated without
charge or trial since October 2007, the longest interned administrative
detainee. A father of six, he's, in fact, been held for most of the past
19 years unjustly like so many others for shorter or longer periods.
- Addressing Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, Military
Judge Advocate General Avihai Mandelblit, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,
and Israel's Permanent UN Mission in Geneva, Addameer expressed "strong
concerns" on his behalf.
- Serving as deputy director of the Hebron Palestinian
Red Crescent Society ambulance and emergency services, his detention was
renewed 30 times, most recently on April 11, 2011. Yet no evidence proves
criminality, political or otherwise. Nonetheless, he's been denied minimal
due process, preventing his right to a just defense.
- Addameer expressed outrage about "the manifest breaches
of human rights and international humanitarian law" violations against
him, like so many others. As a result, the organization strongly urged:
- -- his immediate and unconditional release, as well as
others unjustly held;
- -- an immediate end to arbitrary arrests and administrative
detentions without charge for indefinite periods; and
- -- respect for international human rights and humanitarian
law provisions regarding arrests, detentions and treatment.
- Addameer currently estimates about 6,000 political prisoners
in Israeli prisons. The Prisoners at Risk Campaign highlights cases getting
little public attention yet deserve urgent action. They include:
- -- prisoners seriously ill at risk of further deterioration
because of willful medical neglect;
- -- those held indefinitely without charge of trial;
- -- human rights activists;
- -- those longest held; and
- -- those severely tortured because they refuse to be
silent about their ill-treatment.
- Addameer's director, Sahar Francis, says:
- "This campaign, and its focus on the mobilization
of international civil society, is absolutely essential because the failure
of peace talks, including Oslo (and subsequent sham efforts), to resolve
the prisoner issue has amply demonstrated that without intense external
pressure, Israel will never abide by international human rights and humanitarian
- On April 17, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
(PCHR) headlined its press release, "Palestine Prisoners Day - Narratives
Behind Locked Doors," saying:
- Commemorated annually, the day "support(s) and recognize(s)
Palestinians currently in custody in Israel" unjustly. According to
the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, the number
ranges from the current low up to 12,000 or more, mostly for political
and related reasons, including women and children.
- From 1967 - 2008, Addameer reported over 650,000 detained,
- 20% of the total Occupied Territory (OPT) population
and 40% of all males. Moreover, since the beginning of the September 2000
second Intifada, 70,000 were interned. According to PCHR, 760,000 have
been held since 1967. Currently, it states, about 6,500 are detained, including
over 250 children and 37 women.
- Most are held in Palestine, but many others in Israeli
civil and military prisons, in violation of numerous Fourth Geneva provisions,
including Article 49 stating:
- "....forcible transfers, as well as deportations
of protected persons (including prisoners) from occupied territory to the
territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied
or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive."
- "PCHR notes with particular concern the many violations
of human rights and humanitarian law that prisoners are subjected to while
in Israeli detention. In particular violations of Articles 7, 9 and 10
of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Israel
is a State Party."
- Moreover, children are treated like adults in brazen
violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), defining
a minor is anyone below age 18. Israel is a CRC signatory yet violates
this law like all other international ones flagrantly.
- On June 7, 1967, Military proclamation No. 1 justified
detentions "in the interests of security and public order," subjecting
all Palestinians to police state persecution. Hundreds of other orders
followed, gravely harming their rights and well-being.
- As a result, they may be held indefinitely as well as
subjected to months of abusive, inhumane and degrading interrogations and
treatment, then detained without charge or tried in military courts, denying
due process and judicial fairness.
- In confinement, Israel willfully and systematically violates
international humanitarian law, including Geneva's Common Article 3, requiring:
- "humane treatment for all persons in enemy hands,
specifically prohibit(ing) murder, mutilation, torture, cruel, humiliating
and degrading treatment (and) unfair trial(s)."
- Fourth Geneva's Article 4 calls "protected persons"
those held by parties to a conflict or occupation "of which they are
not nationals." They must "be treated with humanity and, in case
of trial, shall not be deprived of the rights of fair and regular trial
prescribed by the present Convention." They're entitled to full Fourth
Geneva rights. Prisoners of war under Third Geneva have the same rights
and those under Common Article 3.
- Israel willfully denies them. Under the 1971 Israeli
Prison Ordinance, no provision defines prisoner rights. It only provides
binding rules for the Interior Minister who can interpret them freely by
administrative decree. For example, it's legal to intern 20 inmates in
a cell as small as five meters long, four meters wide and three meters
high, including an open lavatory, and they can be confined up to 23 hours
daily. As a result, they're subjected to horrific conditions, including:
- -- severe overcrowding;
- -- poor ventilation and sanitation;
- -- no change of clothes or adequate clothing;
- -- sleeping on wooden planks with thin mattresses, some
infested with vermin; blankets are often torn, filthy and inadequate; hot
water is rare and soap is rationed;
- -- at the Negev Ketziot military detention camp, threadbare
tents are used, exposing detainees to extreme weather conditions; in summer,
vermin, insects, scorpions, parasites, rats, and other reptiles are a major
- -- Megiddo and Ofer also use tents; in addition, Ofer
uses oil-soiled hangers;
- -- for some, isolation in tiny, poorly ventilated solitary
confinement with no visitation rights or contact with counsel or other
- -- no access to personal cleanliness and hygiene; toilet
facilities are restricted, forcing prisoners to urinate in bottles in their
- -- inadequate food in terms of quality, quantity, and
- -- poor medical care, including lack of specialized personnel,
mental health treatment, and denial of needed medicines and equipment;
as a result, many suffer ill health; doctors are also pressured to deny
proper treatment, some later admitting it;
- -- extreme psychological pressure to break detainees'
- -- widespread use of torture, abuse, cruel and degrading
- -- women and children are treated like men;
- -- NGOs like Physicians for Human Rights - Israel and
the ICRC are deterred from aiding detainees;
- -- denied or hindered access to family members and counsel;
- -- enforced conditions subordinating visits to national
security priorities, requiring prisoners not be security risks, that persons
applying for visits not have a security record, and whatever other stipulations
- PCHR noted special concern for about 700 detained Gazans,
denied visits, phone calls, mail or other communications with family members
for nearly four years with rare (usually one-time only) exceptions allowed.
This outrageous prohibition, "exacerbates the already difficult conditions
of confinement and constitutes a violation of international human rights
- PCHR commemorated Palestinian Prisoners Day by releasing
nine poignant narratives, including "The Mother of a Minor in Prison
- Amal Abdul-Allah."
- For many years, she endured enormous hardships. Her father
was incarcerated for 17 years. Her husband was arrested and released in
1983. Her brother and nephew were also imprisoned, and in February 2009,
Israeli her third-oldest son, Oudai.
- "He was arrested on his way to Ramallah, at Beit
Iba checkpoint near Nablus. We realized that he must have been arrested
when he did not come home to sleep that night. He had been arrested in
the morning and forced to spend the entire day and night at the checkpoint.
He had to lie on the ground the entire time, until they took him to Megiddo
prison the next day."
- Family members weren't told of his whereabouts. The ICRC
got spotty information. For several months, he was repeatedly transfered
to new prisons. With one exception, Amal and other family members were
totally denied visitation rights for "security reasons."
- Family members occasionally get information from released
prisoners, Amal learning that Oudai was healthy but emotionally exhausted,
depressed, always crying, and wanted to go home.
- Amal told PCHR:
- "I am emotionally in pain because I haven't seen
him in so long. The whole situation is very hard. I can't bear it. Also,
when I saw him for the first time in court, it was very hard for me, especially
since I hadn't seen him for (months). I could not stop crying, but I was
afraid for him and I tried to hold myself together as much as possible.
For now, what hurts me most is that I am not allowed to visit him."
- Moreover, Oudai, like most other child or adult prisoners,
is held on spurious charges, assuring months or many years of injustice
and harsh treatment. Unlike detained Jews given due process in civil courts,
Palestinians get none under occupation. Nor do Israeli Arabs for their
faith and ethnicity in a Jewish state.
- A Final Comment
- On April 17, the International Solidarity Movement (ISM)
said about 1,000 Hebron protesters marked the day by rallying for release
of Palestinian prisoners. "At the same time, thousands of prisoners
joined a one-day hunger strike," protesting their treatment and legal
- Protesters included family members, local authorities,
and international activists. According to former political prisoner Abdul
Nasser Farwana's new report, virtually every Palestinian household has
had members jailed. It explains that most of those detained are unrelated
to alleged security issues; that torture is freely used to extract confessions;
that no consideration is given women, children and those ill; and that
overall treatment violates fundamental international law.
- On April 17 and throughout the year, remember how abusively
Israel treats Arabs for their faith and ethnicity, and that conduct this
reprehensible no longer can be tolerated.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
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