- On June 24, Haaretz writers Barak Ravid and Revital Hoval
headlined, "Netanyahu: Israel to toughen conditions for Palestinian
- On June 23, Netanyahu announced plans "to toughen
the conditions of Palestinian security prisoners," meaning all of
them wanting Palestine to be free, yet few committed crimes warranting
- During his Jerusalem Israeli Presidential Conference,
- "We will give them all that they deserve according
to international law, but nothing beyond that," despite systematically
brutalizing detainees ruthlessly. More on that below. He added that:
- "We will stop, among other things, the absurd practice
in which terrorists who murdered innocent people enroll in academic studies.
There will be no more 'doctors of terror' - the celebration is over."
- Netanyahu spoke after the International Red Cross' request
for proof that IDF soldier Gilat Shalit is alive went unanswered. Hamas
spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters:
- "The Red Cross should not get involved in Israeli
security games aimed at reaching Shalit. It should take a stand that results
in ending the suffering of (thousands) of Palestinian prisoners" held
under brutalizing conditions.
- At the same time, Shalit's father, Noam, criticized Red
Cross officials for not doing more, saying:
- "We demand that the Red Cross' approach be more
active and decisive. I would like to believe that they would give us a
sign of life from Gilad. We are conducting ongoing dialogue with the Red
Cross but it has not been much help. I did not hear them condemn Hamas
on its crime against Gilad. The Red Cross has been a complete failure in
- Shalit's been held captive since June 25, 2006 after
Hamas responded to repeated IDF attacks, including a widely reported beach
shelling, killing eight Palestinians and injuring 32 others, 13 children
among them. Israel denied responsibility, falsely blaming a Hamas mine
despite forensic evidence proving otherwise.
- In retaliation, Hamas struck an Israeli military post
near Kerem Shalom crossing, southeast of Rafah, killing two soldiers, injuring
several others and capturing Shalit. He's been held ever since because
Israel refuses to negotiate responsibly to free him, preferring to use
his captivity to vilify Hamas, what his father doesn't understand or won't
- On June 24, Haaretz writer Avi Assacharoff headlined,
"Hamas: Israel's decision to toughen prison conditions violates international
- Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called it an attempt to
cover up Netanyahu's failure to secure Shalit's release, explaining:
- "Israel has failed to reach the captured IDF soldier.
Netanyahu is responsible for Shalit not having been returned. (He'll) only
be returned in exchange for Palestinian prisoners."
- Thousands, in fact, are held lawlessly under horrific
conditions. Netanyahu now spuriously claims international law justifies
toughening them further. In March 2009, a Knesset committee recommended
ways for Hamas prisoners and their sympathizers, including further limiting
family visits already denied or greatly restricted, as well as prohibiting
physical contact, banning television, radio and print publications, and
denying administrative release and lawyer contacts.
- Numbers imprisoned range at different times from about
6,000 to 12,000 or more. Most are held unjustly as political prisoners.
From 1967 - 2008, Addameer reported over 650,000 detained, or about 20%
of the total Occupied Territory (OPT) population and 40% of all males.
Moreover, since the beginning of the September 2000 second Intifada, over
70,000 were interned. Earlier, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights
(PCHR) said 760,000 were held since 1967, including hundreds of children
and many women.
- Most are held in Palestine. Many others, however, are
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."
- 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, international humanitarian law is grievously
violated, 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)."
- Instead, they're subjected to:
- -- 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; and
- -- family and lawyer visitation rights are restricted
- Many are also subjected to barbaric solitary confinement.
If sustained long enough, it destroys the human spirit, psyche, mind and
- Over time, it causes:
- -- severe anxiety;
- -- panic attacks;
- -- lethargy;
- -- insomnia;
- -- nightmares;
- -- dizziness;
- -- irrational anger, at time uncontrollable;
- -- confusion;
- -- social withdrawal;
- -- memory and appetite loss;
- -- delusions and hallucinations;
- -- mutilations;
- -- profound despair and hopelessness;
- -- suicidal thoughts;
- -- paranoia; and
- -- for many, a totally dysfunctional state and inability
ever to live normally outside of confinement.
- In December 2010, an Israeli Bar Association (IBA) report
called Ayalon and Shikma prison isolation wings unfit for human habitation,
looking more like dungeons, with crammed solitary cells rancid with sewer
and mold smells, as well as infested with insects.
- It said "(m)any isolated inmates testified to have
developed paranoia, a tendency for uncontrollable fits of rage, and eyesight
problems because of the lack of natural light through most hours of the
- In Israeli prisons, however, it's common practice under
sub-minimal conditions. Yet "(k)eeping human beings in such unreasonable
conditions for extended periods of time (for any reason) deals a critical
blow to the most basic human rights."
- Moreover, torture, abuse and degrading treatment are
commonplace in violation of international law prohibiting it at all times,
under all conditions with no allowed exceptions. Nonetheless, a 2007 B'Tselem/HaMoked
report titled, "Absolute Prohibition: The Torture and Ill-Treatment
of Palestinian Detainees" estimated that around 85% are subjected
to torture and mistreatment.
- These practices are routinely used against political
activists, students accused of being pro-Islam, sheikhs and religious leaders,
people in Islamic charitable organizations, relatives of wanted individuals
or any man, woman or child Israel targets for any reason.
- Methods used include:
- -- beatings that involve punching, slapping, and kicking
all parts of the body, including with rifle butts and clubs;
- -- painful shackling and binding for prolonged periods,
at times in painful positions;
- -- sleep deprivation;
- -- abusive and intimidating interrogations;
- -- extreme heat or cold;
- -- cursing, yelling, strip searches and other forms of
intimidation including threatened rape or sodomy;
- -- oppressive noise to disrupt sleep; and
- -- other ways to inflict pain and suffering, including
- Some as young as 10 or 12 are detained, terrorized, beaten,
hooded, denied food and water for prolonged periods, as well as access
to toilets and washing facilities, exposed to extreme heat or cold, painful
shackling, sometime brutally for prolonged periods, threatened with sexual
abuse (including rape), sleep deprived like adults, then forced to sign
confessions in Hebrew most don't understand.
- In fact, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel,
Adalah, and Defence for Children International/Palestine obtained dozens
of affidavits detailing the above abuses.
- On June 26, Haaretz writer Gideon Levy headlined, "A
Society is judged by the way it treats its prisoners," saying:
- Palestinians "are all incarcerated under harsh conditions,"
often appalling "in solitary confinement in cells the width of a mattress,
in shocking sanitary conditions, under constant light and deprived of sleep.
Thousands of Palestinians bear the physical and emotional scars of the
torture they have undergone in interrogation rooms."
- Nonetheless, for many Israelis and Netanyahu, it's "not
enough. They want more suffering and vengeance."
- On June 26, Noam Shalit lashed out at Netanyahu, telling
- "We say to (him): you have no mandate to sentence
Gilad to death. The stubbornness and the obstinacy that you prime minister
display in this sad affair is a real and immediate threat - not imaginary
and not our fantasy - to Gilad's life. It is also a threat to the national
strength and values of the state of Israel which we have been raised on
- He noted earlier prisoner exchanges, as well as regular
"security" prisoner releases, saying he's launching a new campaign
to free his son called "The National Referendum to Save Gilad."
- Former senior Israeli security officials offered support,
perhaps enough to resolve the issue. Either way, however, thousands of
Palestinians still rot in Israeli prisons, subjected daily to degrading,
abusive treatment, joined by numerous others lawlessly arrested, sometimes
- Resolving that crime against humanity is the real issue,
as well as liberating Palestine altogether.
- A Final Comment
- This week, 10 participating Freedom Flotilla II ships
sail for Gaza with vitally needed humanitarian aid, hoping to breach the
siege to provide it. Israel is determined to stop them. So is America,
perhaps other nations, and apparently Greece, according to a US Boat to
Gaza June 25 email headlined:
- "Greek Officials Attempt to Block US Boat to Gaza
from Leaving Greek Port - Passengers Suspect Israel/US Economic (and Political)
Pressure on Beleaguered Greek Government," already willing to surrender
its sovereignty to predatory banker diktats in return for bailout help.
- On June 23, passengers learned about a "private
complaint" of unknown origin, filed to stop its mission, claiming
the vessel ("The Audacity of Hope") is unseaworthy. Until it's
resolved, authorities won't let it leave.
- Clearly, Israel, America, Greece, and perhaps other co-conspirator
nations will stoop to anything to keep Gazans under siege, endorsing slow-motion
genocide to ruthlessly suffocate them.
- Courageous passengers aboard all 10 ships, as well as
others previously and more to follow, are determined to stop them. Growing
millions worldwide support them. So should everyone.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
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